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Airfare to New Zealand Has Been Slashed: $328!

American Airlines may be dumbing down some of its product inside the United States (click here for that story), but overseas, it's making a big move that should bring down the price of a trip Down Under.

The airline has announced it will fly from Los Angeles to Auckland, New Zealand starting next June. That may not seem like a big deal on the surface, but look at it this way: Until now, Air New Zealand has dominated the routes from the U.S. to New Zealand. Competition from another carrier, particularly one with such a strong loyalty following, will almost certainly force airfares down.

Air New Zealand has already responded by slashing one-way rates between the two cities, reports are saying, from $516 to $328. Suddenly, Americans can visit their Kiwi friends for much less than a grand. That price won't last forever, but the urge to compete wtih AA is here to stay.

With prices that low, it may make sense for Americans to start a trip to Australia by flying to Auckland first. That's because flights between New Zealand and Australia are plentiful and cheap—so stopping off may wind up yielding substantial savings. And it'll also earn tourists some bonus mountains and sheep.

Previously, the airline had a monopoly on the route ever since Australia-based Qantas abandoned it nearly four years ago. Qantas is aligned with American Airlines, so in a way, it's back on the route, too.