Holy smokes, I Live in New Zealand.

December 17, 2007, 7:51 pm
Filed under: Process of Travelling | Tags: , , ,

I’m writing today to let you know about this amazing discount airfare website in New Zealand, and (incidentally) to ask the rhetorical question about why it is not done in Canada.

Air New Zealand is the flag carrier of New Zealand. They fly a couple dozen domestic routes (including large centres such as Auckland and really small places such as Hokitika and Oamaru), Australia’s main centres, the South Pacific islands (that’s how I’m going to Vanuatu in March), Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, London and the west coast of North America – including direct to Vancouver. It, along with Air Canada, is part of the “Star Alliance” group of airlines offering even more international connections.

In North America, a lot of the last-seats-on-the-plane fares and pre-sale sale seats are cleared out through the Expedia, Hotwire or Travelocity types of services. Air New Zealand, however, has decided to do the job themselves.

It’s called Grabaseat, and it comes highly recommended from almost every New Zealander I’ve talked travel with.

I am told it was launched to coincide with an Air New Zealand anniversary. The attraction was $1 airfares to all sorts of interesting New Zealand destinations. Over the course of time, the fares have increased but are still as much as 75% the ordinary economy class airfare. Most of the fares are for domestic flights only, although the occasional international fare does come up. I’ve seen Australian flights come up twice and Tonga once.

Sometimes Air New Zealand will introduce a cute gimmick that will distract you for the entire day. Last week, for example, they sold 10,000 domestic airfares for the autumn (that’s April to June) with the fares dropping every hour on the hour. The attraction is that you are tempted to wait awhile to see how low the fares will go, but the sooner you buy the better the chance of actual landing a seat on the flight you want. This sale is what will take me to races in Wellington and Christchurch this May and June, with a little extra time in Christchurch to see the leaves change colour.

There are a couple of rules you need to keep in mind when shopping Grabaseat:

  • No dithering! If a price comes up that is really incredible (usually associated with a promotional day or a special event), you have to go for it or else you will lose it. There are only a certain number of discount seats available on a flight, if any. Hesitating means you will lose the seat. This happened to me trying to book a sunny holiday in the Cook Islands a couple of months ago.
  • Dates are fixed. Because these tickets are so cheap, they are non-refundable. To transfer your ticket (which I have done for a Rotorua vacation in January) will cost you $50 per leg of the journey. The novelty of the discount quickly disappears if your dates have to change.
  • If you can pack your bags on short notice, go for it. Some incredible deals are available every so often if you can travel that weekend. Both times I found Australian airfares, that was the case.
  • Remember your passport number. It makes filling out the auto-complete forms much easier…and quicker if you are in a time crunch. Besides, it’ll make online check-in possible so you can hop the queues at Auckland airport.

Oh, and so you are aware New Zealand’s Departure Tax is NOT included in the price of your airfare. Bring NZ$25 cash to the airport with you, or at least a credit card. Security loves sending people away from the clearance lineup if you haven’t paid your departure tax. Fortunately, I learned that through the experiences of other travellers.


2 Comments so far
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Sounds like you’re researching these types of things so you can take advantage of the discounts. Good for you…perhaps you can book something for you and the terrific looking “Puppydog” to enjoy next… ummm winter ???

Comment by Blacksheep

[…] Filed under: Actual Travelling I left a sort of teaser about this on my website a week ago (the Grabaseat post). This is a trilogy about my Surprise Canadian Christmas.  My parents were very happy. Tears […]

Pingback by Surprise Canadian Christmas. « Holy smokes, I Live in New Zealand.

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