Air New Zealand is testing a new way for travelers to purchase flights. The Starfish card is available for individual travelers for an annual fee of NZ$800 and will allow them to save 30 percent on all regional airfares for one year. A less expensive option, for NZ$200 a year, offers a 15 percent discount. Anyone can purchase the card and non-Airpoints members will automatically be enrolled in Airpoints and get the NZ$50 joining fee waived. Air New Zealand Airpoints members who have a Starfish card will continue to earn credit for the discounted flights. According to airline executives, 32,000 frequent flyers mostly from small- to medium-sized businesses, will benefit from these cards if they travel the same amount as they did last year. A two-month trial of the new product started at the end of August and Air New Zealand is communicating with members via an email that includes their last year’s spend to help them determine if the card is a good idea for them.
Bottom line: Members should look at the math and where they typically fly before plopping down the money for these discount cards. All regional Air New Zealand flights arriving or leaving from regional airports will be covered by the card: Blenheim, Kerikeri, Palmerston North, Wanaka, Gisborne, Masterton, Rotorua, Wanganui, Hamilton, Napier, Taupo, Whakatane, Hokitika, Nelson, Tauranga, Whangarei, Invercargill, New Plymouth, Timaru, Westport and Kaitaia. However, the Starfish card will not pertain to major destinations such as Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin, Christchurch and Queenstown. And if you’re not sure that you will travel enough to recoup the NZ$800, then the card is definitely not for you. But, if you are comfortable with how much you’ll be traveling, the savings can be significant. For example, if you spend NZ$60,000 on local flights a year, you’ll save NZ$17,200 (NZ$18,000 minus the NZ$800 annual fee) with the Starfish card.