Booking a cheap Air NZ flight to LAX? Beware of the new P class non upgradeable fares.

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 5-Apr-2016 21:22

IMPORTANT UPDATE: As of the 6th April (the day after this went live) Air NZ have had a “policy change” that now means these new P class fares CAN NOW be upgraded like other classes of fares. This means that F class (Grabaseat) fares are the only revenue fares that can’t be upgraded. 


If you’re a frequent flyer like myself you’ll enjoy the benefits of upgrades when travelling on Air New Zealand. If you’re Airpoints Silver, Gold or Elite you’ll receive Recognition Upgrade(s) that can be used to upgrade to the next booking class, ie from economy to premium economy, or from premium economy to business premier. For those who don’t have Recognition Upgrades, AIr NZ operate a PlusGrade platform known as OneUp that allows you to bid for an upgrade, or if you’re Airpoints Elite you can upgrade by purchasing an Elite Standby Upgrade.

All of these upgrades are available on regular paid booking classes. For travel to the US these classes are as follows -

Economy - K/G/S/L/T/W/V/Q/H/J/M/B/Y

Premium Economy – A/O/E/U

Business Premier – J/Z/D/C

For the past few years Air New Zealand have been promoting cheap international flights on their Grabaseat website. Many of these flights (particularly to North America) are in a special promotional fare class known as F class. Bookings made in this class are non upgradeable, meaning you can’t use any form of upgrade to escape economy class. It’s important to note as well that F class airfares are ONLY available from the grabaseat booking engine, they can’t be booked on the main Air NZ website, or a travel agent via GDS.

While the main Air NZ Recognition page makes no mention of F class fares not being upgradeable, their terms and conditions do.

From the Air NZ website :-

Airpoints Upgrades are not available on all Air NZ operated and Star Alliance operated Flights. For example, Airpoints Upgrades cannot be requested for Companion Tickets, travel industry fares, prize and promotional Tickets, grabaseat™ greenlight fares and Flights booked in certain discounted or low cost booking classes, including F class..


Over the past week Air New Zealand have been offering some pretty good deals to the US with fares as low as $899 return. These fares have been available from the Air NZ website along with travel agents via GDS.

What Air NZ have failed to mention is the introduction of a new booking class – P, which is being used for these flights, is non upgradeable. If you book a P class fare you can’t use a recognition upgrade, OneUp, or Elite standby upgrade. Don’t go hunting for this mentioned anywhere because you won’t find the rule – it’s not listed anywhere. Your fare simply can’t be upgraded on the Air NZ website, and a call to the call centre will confirm this. There is also no mention of this in the fare rules so a travel agent booking this would also be unaware of this new restriction.

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The perils of using Airbnb during big events
How to remotely control your heat pump from your phone for under NZ$25

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Steve Biddle
New Zealand

I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.

I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)

  -xDSL deployments

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.

+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.

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