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The trip to Middle Earth just got a lot shorter for East Coast-based passengers. For the first time, travelers will be able to fly nonstop between the New York area and Auckland, New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is launching a new nonstop from Newark to Auckland in October 2020, with service three times a week, the airline says. Air New Zealand is part of the Star Alliance, which means United flyers can use points or earn miles on these flights.

Here are a few reasons you may want to book this new route if you’ve been thinking of visiting New Zealand.

Travel time is a lot shorter

Right now, it takes around 21 hours of travel time at a minimum to fly from New York to Auckland, with a stop included. This new route, estimated at 17 hours 40 minutes from Newark, would shave off about three hours

And coming back to the U.S. will be even quicker. While current flights require close to 19 hours of travel time (at least), the new nonstop flight is estimated to clock in at 15 hours, 40 minutes.

More connection options

Newark will become the fifth U.S. city with nonstop flights to New Zealand. Other cities include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago. (American is launching nonstop flights from Dallas next year, so that will make six cities total.)

Even if you’re not based in the greater New York area, this flight could help make your connections a little easier since United operates more than 400 flights out of Newark Liberty International Airport. Air New Zealand will be offering a code share on 90 of those flights to various U.S. destinations.

Award flights

This new route to New Zealand is slated to go on sale in November. The question is whether it will go on sale in time for travelers to redeem miles under United’s current award chart, which will be discontinued after Nov. 15, 2019, in favor of a dynamic pricing model.

Under current redemption rates, you could score a saver economy class ticket for 40,000 miles each way, or 80,000 each way for saver business class.

Air New Zealand service

Air New Zealand was named the Airline of the Year by Travel Weekly in 2018 and is a repeat winner of the Skytrax Best Premium Economy Class and Best Premium Economy Seat awards. This new route means more people will get to experience this airline’s Kiwi hospitality, New Zealand-inspired food and maybe even a Skycouch seat if you’re willing to pay for it. (Not to mention that their safety videos are mini- movies.)

The bottom line

This new nonstop makes it easier than ever for New York-based travelers to access the South Pacific and vice versa. It's particularly good news for United frequent flyers, who can earn miles on paid flights or use their miles to potentially score the flights at a huge discount.

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