My Wife and I are planning a trip to New Zealand to visit friends. So, I am looking to do BOS-(LAX)-AKL(Destination)-MEL(STOPOVER)-(SYD)-(LAX)-BOS This morning before I had my second cup of coffee I locked in the BOS-(IAH)-LAX-AKL segment and put it on a 4 day hold because there were not enough miles in my wife's account. After I had my second cup of coffee I was worried about getting home since Last night I could not find a flight between AKL-SFO/LAX with a Y award seat so we talked about going to MEL to visit her friends there because there is availability in March on EITHER UA or QF. The first question, which I recall reading the answer to was yes but I am making sure, that I can put a hold on the return and then call up and have them merge the reservations into a round trip and book it together (for the free stop over) The second question is basic. I read somewhere that the 747 that leaves MEL for SYD actually is a Different Plane than the one that leaves SYD for LAX. Is this still the case? The reason is we will have a lap infant, and transferring from plane to plane in SYD will make the whole thing even worse than expected. Also, since this is a very long ways away from most UA destinations, how much concern is there about IROps? Third Question, how is the Hard Product and Catering on the route? Will it match UA inter-asia or will it be better or worse? Finally, in steerage with no status, does it make sense to book the return on UA Metal with the stop, or book the return is AAdvantage miles on QF Y direct MEL-LAX and cross the ditch on either some QF miles I have sitting around, or Avios, or Cash? I have enough UA Miles and UR points to book the whole thing, and plenty of AA miles to book the return that way as well, so using one set of miles over the other doesn't matter to so much as product and transit time, and possibility of getting a bassinet row.