Posts in the “Air New Zealand” category...
by Continental Club on November 23, 2016 | Leave a comment • Tagged as: Air New Zealand, Air New Zealand Cyber Monday. Air NZ Cyber Monday, Air New Zealand Economy, Air New Zealand SkyCouch, Air New Zealand £199 Fare, Air New Zealand £199 Los Angeles, Air NZ, Air NZ Economy, Air NZ SkyCouch, Air NZ £199 Fare, Air NZ £199 Los Angeles
Air New Zealand operate their service between London Heathrow and Auckland via Los Angeles, and the airline is planning to once again run a Cyber Monday promotion – offering 100 seats between the UK capital and California for just £199 return. The promotion will only be bookable at airnewzealand.co.uk.
Bookings open at 10am on Monday 28th November 2016, and the offer ends when all the seats are sold. Travel dates are outbound between 5th & 7th February 2017 and between 12th & 13th February 2017, and return between 12th & 14th February 2017 and between 20th and 21st February 2017.
Flights are changeable for a fee of £100 plus any difference in fare, which in practice will be to the best available ‘normal’ fare. It will also be possible to ‘hold’ a £199 fare for up to 3 days at a cost of £25.
Upgrades to Air New Zealand’s economy SkyCouch seat were offered subject to availability last year, at a cost of £100 per passenger for a family of two adults and one child; £299 per passenger for a couple travelling together and £599 for a single passenger. Prices were one-way. The promotion details thus far published don’t explicitly confirm that this additional deal will be combinable with the £199 fare, however the airline is separately offering a similar deal on ‘normal’ Economy bookings.
For further information and to book, visit airnewzealand.co.uk. Note that the £199 London to Los Angeles fares will not be available from any other website, including Air New Zealand sites other than the United Kingdom version.
The airline also promises additional Cyber Monday deals to be announced closer to the day, all of which will also be advertised and bookable at airnewzealand.co.uk.
by Continental Club on November 24, 2015 | Leave a comment • Tagged as: Air New Zealand, Air New Zealand Cyber Monday. Air NZ Cyber Monday, Air New Zealand Economy, Air New Zealand SkyCouch, Air New Zealand £199 Fare, Air New Zealand £199 Los Angeles, Air NZ, Air NZ Economy, Air NZ SkyCouch, Air NZ £199 Fare, Air NZ £199 Los Angeles
Air New Zealand operate their service between London Heathrow and Auckland via Los Angeles, and the airline is planning to offer 100 seats between the UK capital and California for just £199 return. The promotion will be part of Air NZ’s Cyber Monday 2015 promotion and will only be bookable at airnewzealand.co.uk.
Bookings open at 10am on Monday 30th November, and the offer ends when all the seats are sold. Travel dates are outbound between 1st & 3rd February 2016 and between 8th & 9th February 2016, and return between 8th & 11th February 2016 and between 15th and 17th February 2016.
The fares are changeable for a fee of £100 plus any difference in fare, which in practice will be to the best available ‘normal’ fare.
Upgrades to Air New Zealand’s economy SkyCouch seat will be offered subject to availability at a cost of £100 per passenger for a family of two adults and one child; £299 per passenger for a couple travelling together and £599 for a single passenger. SkyCouch upgrade prices are one-way.
For further information and to book, visit airnewzealand.co.uk. Note that the £199 London to Los Angeles fares will not be available from any other website, including Air New Zealand sites other than the United Kingdom version.
by Continental Club on November 29, 2013 | One comment • Tagged as: Air New Zealand, Air New Zealand All Blacks Friday, Air New Zealand Black Friday, Air New Zealand Discount Code, Air New Zealand Promo Code, Air New Zealand Sale
Black Friday has become infamous as the day when US retailers slash prices following the Thanksgiving Holiday and, this year, Air New Zealand is joining the savings bandwagon with ‘All Blacks’ Friday discounts worth up to £250 off return fares between London and Los Angeles, London and the Pacific Islands, and London and New Zealand.
So, for one day only: Friday 29th November 2013, Air New Zealand passengers can book flights departing up to and including 30th June 2014 with minimum savings of £50 per person.
The full list of codes is as follows:
Save £50 off all economy fares to Los Angeles. Fares now from £457. Promo code: BLACKLA50
Save £150 of all Premium Economy fares to Los Angeles. Fares now from £876 Promo code: BLACKLA150
Save £250 off all Business Premier fares to Los Angeles. Fares now from £1742 Promo code: BLACKLA250
Save £100 off all economy fares to New Zealand. Fares now from £884 Promo code: BLACKNZ100
Save £150 of all Premium Economy fares to New Zealand. Fares now from £2292 Promo code: BLACKNZ150
Save £250 off all Business Premier fares to New Zealand. Fares now from £3905 Promo code: BLACKNZ250
Pacific Islands (based on flights to Tahiti)
Save £100 off all economy fares to New Zealand. Fares now from £1172 Promo code: BLACKPAC100
Save £250 off all Business Premier fares to New Zealand. Fares now from £3904 Promo code: BLACKPAC250
For more details, full terms and conditions and to book, visit airnewzealand.co.nz.
Under normal circumstances, an Air New Zealand sale for flights originating in Auckland might not warrant a mention on this UK-based website. One fare in particular could prove useful to non-Kiwis in a new sale though – Auckland to Honolulu from NZD519, which equates to just under GBP300 one way.
Fares on the route typically run at twice that, but new non-stop competition from Hawaiian Airlines has perhaps prompted the promotion.
The relevance is that, in general, oneworld alliance frequent flyer seats from Australasia across the Pacific are very difficult to come by, especially-so following the demise of the Qantas route between Auckland and Los Angeles.
The fare therefore provides a potentially good-value way for oneworld frequent flyers who have made it using miles from Europe to the Antipodes with Finnair, British Airways, Qantas or Cathay Pacific – to cross the Pacific from New Zealand to an Eastbound airport from which ow mileage redemption opportunities improve once again.
It’s an 8h45m haul from Auckland to Hawaii though, so those having travelled down under in Business or First Classes may feel the pinch. Nevertheless, the ease of booking a pure revenue fare may soothe the pain, compared to the hours spent searching for an elusive award seat…..*
For the full list of promotional fares click ‘READ MORE’ or scroll down:
The Kiwi carrier is no stranger to novelty demonstrations, and followed a variety of airlines into the genre, including TUI-owned Thomson amongst others.
This video is the first to be filmed outside of New Zealand and wholly on the ground for Air NZ, and features former Golden Girls star White alongside The Love Boat‘s Gavin MacLeod.
Visitors to the Air New Zealand website to view the new demonstration have the opportunity to win a trip to Palm Springs, California or Queenstown, New Zealand. Entries must be received by 6pm on Thursday 24th October 2013 (NZ Time).
For more information on Air New Zealand services to Los Angeles and Auckland, and their networks beyond, visit airnewzealand.co.uk.
The last time I flew with Air New Zealand, it was on the flagship NZ1/2 London to
It proved, fairly unequivocally, that size isn’t everything and that a little extra leg room is worth a lot less than a comfortable seat. Which, without a shadow of doubt, the NZ seat was not. In fact it was significantly less comfortable than those competitor seats and therefore it proved to be a somewhat pointless move to have swapped allegiances.
The London-based transatlantic crews were very good, but the Auckland-based Transpacific crews might just have well worked for a completely different company. Uncommunicative, barely visible and cursory in the discharge of their duties, they’d hardly been great ambassadors for their far-flung homeland. That the same disparity in service applied on the return sectors suggested a diminished likelihood of this having been purely bad luck on my part.
Since then however, Air New
A Pacific Premium Economy cabin has been introduced, with increased legroom and Business Class catering, and the rearmost Pacific Economy cabin has also been enhanced.
Positive reviews and industry awards have flowed and so now was the chance to lay the ghosts of NZ1/2 to rest.
Check-in and ground handling at
The lounge has recently been renovated, and to the highest of standards. Although clearly not quite as amenity-laden as its
Having driven up from the South West that day, the first priority was a shower and change into flying togs. The lounge angel provided sealed bales of fresh, fluffy white towels and directions to the shower suites. Spotlessly clean, sensibly-designed and well-equipped, with abundant Molton Brown amenities, they shamed Heathrow Terminal 5’s shabby offerings utterly and completely.
Refreshed and re-robed, the food presentations offered a wide selection of options from which to choose – a bowl of nuts with a chilled glass of wine, right up to a very nice curry and rice (although portion-controlled with very dainty plates). In fact, it was only after significant searching that anything less than perfect was identified: the over-buffet canopy made it rather difficult to select anything at the rear of the presentation and, likewise, for the staff to lay anything out at the front, from their access point at the back. Frankly though, I think I’ll let them off on this.
The bar selection is equally comprehensive, with expansive chillers and free-pour spirits and there are defined dining, lounging and working areas. All in all, a real superb facility for
Things got better when a smartly dressed gentleman appeared to introduce himself as the Flight Service Manager for our flight. He chatted with all the NZ passengers and invited us, should we need anything at all, to speak to him at any time during the flight. It was a very, very nice touch indeed and one which other passengers seemed to react very positively to.
All memories of NZ1 and 2 firmly banished then, and we sat back to await the boarding call, keeping an eye on the unusually informative departure screens, which even include passenger load details and aircraft type.
The next PA announcement began with the equally unusual introduction of distinctly-heard giggles, perhaps as the enmity between QF and NZ bubbled through. Qantas were, it transpired, delight…er…sorry to announce a delay to flight NZ174, as someone had stolen an emergency exit sign from the aircraft. With our dapper FSM nowhere to be seen, we sat and waited for further updates.
In fairness, it didn’t seem to be all that long before our wheelchair pusher arrived – who in fact turned out to be our friendly check-in agent. We set off purposefully in the hands of our airport expert, who promptly delivered us to a gate two stands away from our aircraft. In fact, not just the gate, but the end of the jetty. It didn’t seem to register that there were no gate staff, no passengers – indeed no evidence of any departing flight whatsoever, so the lack of aircraft and the sheer drop at the end of the jetty seemed to unnerve her somewhat. More fool I for not piping up and pointing out the only Air New
Ultimately, we arrived at the correct gate and pre-boarded immediately.
Despite this being a 6 hour plus, overnight flight, the 767 equipment used is not fitted with NZ’s much publicised Business Premier flat bed but, rather, a traditional seat faced in aesthetically tasteful (if sweaty in practice) leather. At least NZ are slightly more forthcoming on their website about the hard product on the
The cabin at least looked smart, clean and fresh, with natty amenity packs and plump pillows on the seats.
After the Lounge Angel’s odd announcement, there came a series of equally strange ‘company’ announcements to crew on board, telling them not to allow anyone to sit beyond a certain row number, as the lack of emergency signage at the rear of the aircraft rendered these seats unusable by law.
OK, the stolen sign was an out-of-the-ordinary occurrence, but surely passengers seated in the affected areas would be re-accommodated by gate staff, not shuffled around in the confined space onboard?
As status and premium passengers began to board, another problem emerged: two other passengers had boarding passes for my seat. Again, how this was missed by gate staff and/or their scanners is a cause for wonder. As I was next to the less-than-sprightly GCC, the other pass-holders were happy to defer and take any other available seat in the cabin of 24 seats. Well, one of them had to move again as the seat he went to was about to be occupied, although crew had directed him there after consulting the pre-board manifest…..
Although somewhat isolated from it in the forward cabin, it was obvious from the amount of bing-bonging that all was not well up the back. And, indeed it proved to be, as the next PA asked any passengers seated in the affected, rearmost, rows to move forward into any available seat. So, the gate staff having failed to re-seat them, the rear cabin crew who had been told to stop anyone sitting aft of row X, had also failed to deal with the situation.
Cue much chuntering and commotion and, inevitably, passengers appearing back through the curtain and taking Business Class seats. This seemed to faze the crew too, despite passengers plainly having been told to take any ‘available’ seat, until they finally relented. The insurgents were resignedly told that, whilst they could sit in Business, they would get Economy service. Fair enough, except when it ultimately came to it and as we’d already seen, the multiple assignments for the same seat, occupied seat showing available and therefore necessarily-reseated actual Business Class passengers meant that the crew couldn’t tell who’d paid to be at the front and who hadn’t.
The whole thing was rapidly shaping up to be a less than divine Kiwi comedy.
Our charming-but-by-now-somewhat-flustered FSM made announcements to say that all was now sorted, despite there being passengers standing around, no-sign of doors closing and the scheduled departure time becoming a feint and distant memory.
A quick and quiet word with him in the galley, in the hope that we would be just one over and that an offer of my willingness to take a jump-seat to get the lone remainder strapped in and the rubber off the tarmac, revealed that we were in fact still 4 over.
It therefore took a further wait for Qantas engineers to come onboard and remove a crew-rest screen, liberating enough seats for passenger use, to get us secured for take-off and a significantly delayed push-back.
At least, every now and again during the pre-departure stressing, the offer of a drink from the galley had been forthcoming.
Once aloft, service began and the sticky seats were investigated. FCC was horrified to find himself having to exert physical force against the first non-powered premium seat that he’s probably ever had the misfortune to fly in. In fact, he had to be quietly advised that it wasn’t broken, it was merely cheap. Not that it reclined all that far anyway, and the legrest would only support those whose limbs had been truncated mid-calf.
The personal TV screens for the on-demand system unfold from the armrest, although despite repeated prodding of the unresponsive touch screen, the system wasn’t working and had to be rebooted. Twice. When the crew eventually defibrillated it into life, it turned out to be rather less on-demand and more ‘on-beg’. A more dysfunctional interface could barely be conceived, made all the more frustrating by NZ’s obsession with practically the only Kiwi TV production to have achieved any international success: The Flight of The Conchords.
Apparently, the ‘stars’ of the show bill themselves as ‘Formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo accapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.’ They may be right, but being forced to scroll through 42 full-page synopses of each featured episode before it’s possible to watch single showings of little-known offerings like The Simpsons or Fawlty Towers, renders them without a shadow of doubt ‘The World’s most annoying and obstructive act at altitude’. By the time I’d poked the screen 43 times to get to Homer, I’d lost all feeling in my index finger and much of my will to live.
Who’s ever heard of a simple menu system?
It’s enough to turn one to drink, so just as well that the bar approached (along with the confused crew trying to work out who was legit and who was a refugee from the rear). A swankily-labelled Cable Bay Pinot Noir proved a mistake, putting me in mind of the salad dressing employed by Air
After three attempts (the crew in question repeatedly being about to put the plate down and then running away to the galley) a small bowl of undescribed canapes and nuts were presented, a linen cloth having been draped across the table first.
This stuttering service proved the norm throughout, from a crew who regularly seemed unsure of what they were doing, untrained in premium service, outfitted in uniforms that looked slightly paramilitary in hue and Primark in quality and, in the case of one crewmember, an inability to pronounce (simple) passenger names. Some people may like casual; I found it sloppy and hardly inspiring confidence that, in case of emergency (and despite the lack of associated signage) this crew would suddenly invigorate and deftly handle a life and death situation.
The meal service began with the sole possibility of a smoked salmon and crab parcel which, luckily, was very nice indeed. It arrived with a subtly-labelled pot of dressing….
A main course of, well, do you know what? I can’t remember. Fish, of some description, on pasta. With sweetcorn, as you can see. It’s at this point that I remember that there were no menus. Or wine lists. So, I can’t tell you what else I might have chosen from. I think it was steak, which would have been dandy with that plastic knife.
Notwithstanding that, I remember that the fish was tasty, and followed by a very refreshing but tasteless pre-scooped ice cream and then a really very good indeed cheese plate.
By that point, acutely aware that the time difference between
When the tyres finally touched the tarmac, it was a short taxi to the terminal building, a time filled with profuse apology from the FSM for the delayed departure and arrival. A wheelchair and pusher were awaiting our appearance and it was the by-now customary expedited special-assistance progress through immigration to baggage reclaim. Priority labelling worked flawlessly again and we were then directed along a fast channel through the agriculture check and security and out into the fresh early-morning
Whereupon Hertz capped the overnight experience by pulling their usual trick of gifting an upgrade to some hapless early-morning European long-haul arrival, and with it the most lurid beast in their compound, aka The Snot…..
Final Verdict for Air New
In 2004, Air New Zealand’s economy service from London, via Los Angeles to Auckland, had been touted as best-of-breed thanks to its 34” seat pitch. The reality had been a seat which was significantly less comfortable than those flown by competitor airlines, and disengaged service on the Transpacific sectors. On the return journey at least, the premium check-in area at Auckland Airport, direct access to fast-track security and a great food and drink presentation in Air New Zealand’s Koru Club lounge had been better experiences but, overall, it had been a disappointing series of flights.
The airline’s first chance to make a better impression had come four and a half years later, from Perth to Auckland in Business Class, and had started well with a great (Qantas) lounge experience and then rapidly degenerated into a Kiwi comedy from which it was a blessed relief to see the curtain come down with disembarkation.
All hopes were therefore pinned on this, Air New Zealand’s flagship ‘Business Premier’ 777 service, being third time lucky.
It didn’t start well.
24 hours before our departure, NCC left on that day’s flight to Narita. She couldn’t use the direct access to security fast-track however, because the door was ‘broken’. Although it had been repaired by the following day, we couldn’t use it either, as the route is not wheelchair accessible. Instead, we were directed back out of the premium check-in area, to a lift and then through the normal route to rejoin fast-track (which we would by-pass anyway as an ‘assisted’ party).
Check-in was eased by having filled in departure cards before we’d set off for the airport (a few having been snaffled the previous morning) and was reasonably swift. The entry to the premium area, at the extreme right of the general area, was (wo)manned by two uniformed staff but not policed at all, so I’m not at all sure that a non-status, non-premium passenger would actually be challenged. Departing NZ Premium Economy passengers are legitimately allowed also to use the facility though, which is a nice added-value to that service.
Acquirral of the pre-booked wheelchair seemed to test the capability of the agent though, and it took a little while for her to understand that the wheelchair-less person sitting right in her line-of-sight, identified and referred to several times, did indeed require the wheelchair that had been pre-booked and, rather than from a blink, three stamps of the right foot and a click of some fingers, it would be required from Air New Zealand. When that finally seemed to sink in, she did quickly dash off to find one.
Boarding passes issued, we found the relevant lift, pressed the appropriate button to the next floor up for Security and exited one floor above that. We got back in the lift, pressed the button again and exited back in the check-in area. A further yo-yo later and with patience expired, we asked the premium check in entrance (disre)guards how to get to Security since the lift was proving to be an altogether over-elevating experience. ‘Oh’, they said in unison, ‘it does that sometimes.’ Well, from this luggage-burdened, wheelchair-pushing, premium passenger: thank you very much indeed for that. You cannot imagine how helpful such information is.
We ended up coasting over to the other side of the terminal building, up in a rather more disciplined elevator and finally through security. It’s then a further short walk, past Tie Rack, to the corridor leading to the airline lounges, another lift (or escalator should you be unencumbered) and then access to the Koru Club. As had now become the norm, we confirmed with the dragons that we’d need a pusher when our flight was called and we were invited to relax and we’d be found at the appropriate time.
At 8am, the lounge was heaving, with the only available seats being in the ‘quiet’ area – ie no mobile phones, but still a completely integrated part of the lounge. A bit like one of those ridiculous ‘Nuclear Free’ signs that used to be put up by councils in the 1980s – usually within naked eyesight of the Atomic Power Station in the neighbouring borough. Despite the lack of capacity, a reasonably significant area was partitioned off for no obvious reason, and further space was taken up with some (unattended) third-party company’s massage chairs.
The breakfast presentation was also disappointing, with nothing like the range of food that had been on offer for that evening departure back to London in 2004. Replenishment was slow or non-existent, milk had to be requested for the coffee machine – and at least some of the staff seemed out of their depth with more senior employees publically rebuking or audibly instructing lesser ones.
Our pusher arrived promptly however, and galloped at speed through the terminal building to our gate. After just a few moments’ wait, we were waved through to pre-board and trundled down the jetty to experience almost 12 daytime hours of Business Premier service.
At its launch in 2005, though arguably less so now, Air New Zealand’s new seat was particularly notable for its combination of both completely horizontal conversion, and direct aisle access for every passenger. At a stroke, two features hugely demanded by long haul passengers had been delivered. Of course, NZ weren’t first to market with this seat, as it is in fact a licensed (and slightly tweaked) version of Virgin Atlantic’s.
And, as its 34” pitch Economy cousin did in 2004, it garners some very complimentary reviews. Passengers, particularly those who have made use of the London to Los Angeles sector, welcomed the horizontal seat in Business Class with which only British Airways could compete to the West Coast of the USA. For UK redeemers within Star Alliance Airlines’ loyalty programmes too, Air New Zealand’s direct service with London-based crews is therefore clearly preferable to, say, United or US Airways and, via European hubs, Lufthansa or SAS connections.
The most obvious feature of the cabin layout which affords this direct aisle access is its ‘herringbone’ pattern. This means that no seat is, effectively, ‘next’ to another. Rather, every seat is behind or in front of another, so the occupant looks diagonally forward to someone’s feet emerging from a cross-aisle seat, or directly in front to the rear three-quarter view of someone’s lughole. It’s therefore quite private for lone travellers, but less convenient for couples or more.
Passengers on the outboard seats in the cabin, though nominally adjacent to the windows, will actually find that the portholes are behind them and a slight distance away, which may not suit the avid cloud-watcher.
Once seated, the next most obvious characteristic of the seat is that it is one that ‘converts’ to a bed, rather than one that ‘becomes’ a bed and, in practice, the difference may be significant. To explain, the general modus operandi of the pre-existing Business Class horizontal beds such as BA’s, and most (though not all) of those which have been developed since, is for the seat to recline in one largely continuous motion until it is completely flat – usually linking up with some kind of ottoman or footstool.
Virgin and then Air New Zealand’s solution, however, is for the seat to only recline partially, and for it to be flipped-over in its entirety to form a bed. On a long overnight flight, this may in fact be perfectly satisfactory, but even then for some – and on daytime flights for many – this limited seat recline and necessity to make a conscious decision to ‘convert’ to the fully flat bed could be tedious.
Each individual seat is upholstered in soft, dark grey leather and housed in a pale grey plastic cocoon, the superstructure of which houses the next rearward passenger’s table and TV screen. The seat itself, despite its very limited recline, is reasonably comfortable – although those neck-craning outboard passengers may notice that their seats are actually tilted ever so slightly sideways, as if the cabin floor is cambered. That leather does get clammy, too.
With three crew on this sector, no First Class on Air New Zealand and 26 seats in the Business Premier cabin, service should be good and we’re promptly offered assistance and a welcome drink – water, orange juice or sparkling wine – by the all-male team. As priority and general boarding progresses, it becomes apparent that the load in this cabin was going to be very light indeed. In fact, as the doors were closed and the cabin was prepared for departure, just 12 of the available seats, each of which had been prepared with the generous Air New Zealand amenity kit and slippers, had been taken.
The crew suggested that we may wish to spread out around the cabin, but since the problem for the pairs of travellers amongst us was too much separation from our companions already, hemmed as we were into our seat coffins, separating ourselves yet further seemed quite pointless. The lone travellers seemed already well-dispersed.
Once in the air, it became apparent that whilst amenity kits had been laid out for every seat, not one seat had a copy of KiaOra, the airline’s in-flight magazine in its pocket. Neither were there any in the cabin magazine rack.
For the 12th of the month, this seemed odd – and further investigation proved that neither the previous day’s service, nor the one on the 28th of the same month, carried any KiaOras in the Business Premier cabin. One was eventually to be found in Economy on the 28th.
The Flight Service Manager worked his way round each passenger with a short welcome and, as it later transpired, he was a most personable chap. He clearly wasn’t terribly comfortable with the structured small-talk however, although whether that belied a lack of training or some other disinclination, I’m not quite sure. Either way, it didn’t add much value.
The Auckland to Narita in-flight service schedule begins with ‘Wake-up Drinks’ followed by Breakfast, then a ‘Light Refreshment’ and finally Dinner prior to arrival in Tokyo. We know this because that’s what the provided menu says.
That the ‘Wake-up Drinks’ are served at almost 10am, suggests either a remarkable aptitude amongst Business Premier passengers for unconscious travel to the airport, check-in, security processing and boarding, or another one of those over-enthusiastic copy-writers in some darkened bunker of a Marketing Department, far, far away from reality or an airline passenger’s life.
Preparation for the meal service revealed a huge, stable, dining table, the downside of which was that its structural heft meant that every time it was released or stowed, the adjacent coffin-dweller (in whose wall the table is mounted) shifted visibly. Perhaps that would have been a good reason to have spread out a little, after all.
Breakfast began with beautiful fresh fruit and greek-style yoghurt, prepared and served from the galley in a generous bowl, although un-specified cereals were apparently also available.
From the main course selections, which also included a Japanese option of Grilled Salted Salmon or Cinnamon Spiced Brioche Toast, the Three Cheese & Chive Omelette was chosen, which was pre-plated and not terribly well-presented. The attendant spiced tomato chutney completely over-powered the omelette, both in taste and quantity.
Following the meal service, the crew retreated to the galley, where they more or less stayed for the duration of the flight, other than when serving. It’s one of the realities of life in service industries that, when there isn’t a lot for a staff to do, they tend to retrench and do almost nothing – and that’s really what happened here. With 12 passengers and three crew on a daytime flight, there would have been the opportunity to really engage and pamper but, apart from that walk around by the Flight Service Manager, there was only the odd silent patrol of the aisles.
We’re left, therefore, with Air New Zealand’s tedious in-flight entertainment system that requires interminable scrolling through pages and pages of introduction to each feature before the desired one is reached. Alternatively, as mentioned in the menu, passengers are welcome to help themselves from a ‘range of snacks available….to enjoy during your flight.’
The reality is a pretty thin collection of esoteric nibbles and some warm water – a far cry from the similar presentations made on British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific, to name but three. That said, the crew, huddled away in the galley, were more than willing to make drinks and provide fresher offerings, and to chat merrily away at length with any passenger who parted the curtain.
They were a lovely trio and much more relaxed in their sanctuary – but once out in the cabin they reverted to that slight awkwardness that comes from not being quite sure whether they are there to serve, as their Operations Department instructs, or be the passengers’ ‘mates,’ as their bunker-bound Marketing Department would have them be. It was most obvious on this flight with so few passengers, but with hindsight you could see that both the Perth crew and perhaps even those 2004 Transpac crews had suffered from the same stiltedness.
Indeed it might be suggested that it’s a bit of a wider Kiwi trait. New Zealand is, at heart, a pretty conservative and traditional place, yet it’s being promoted by the country’s tourist board, its airline and countless other exporters as being as effortlessly laid-back as some perceive their Australian neighbours to be. In doing so, some of these service providers end up being a bit like a middle-aged father trying to be hip with his kids, frustrated that he’ll never actually be that cool and also uncomfortable with betraying his more mature natural leanings. It certainly felt that way on NZ99 and what a shame too, because the crew were genuinely great folks.
Next up on the in-flight service, following that fairly large breakfast, should have been our ‘Light Refreshment’ so it came as something of a surprise to see an obviously more elaborate preparation being undertaken by the crew. For, in their wisdom, they’d decided to switch service and bring dinner forward to a late lunch, leaving the ‘Light Refreshment’ for later.
A bar service commenced first, with a no-choice starter of ‘Japanese Appetiser Selection’ being served immediately following that. GCC, being less-than-adventurous in such matters, skipped that but I can report that it was delicious. Perhaps as an homage to the Japanese obsession with miniaturisation, the tiniest side salad yet seen on land, sea or in the air was also located on the tray, but only with the aid of spectacles.
Main courses consisted of Pan Seared New Zealand Beef Tenderloin, or a Japanese Dish of Grilled Citrus Pepper Seasoned Chicken & Prawn, or Kumara and Ricotta Ravioli. From this, the Beef was selected – served with roasted herb potatoes, green beans and red pepper pickle. It was, to be honest, very average and the potatoes had been about as roasted as it is possible to be in a pan of boiling water.
Dessert, again, was a choiceless affair, although a separate cheese course was offered. The sweet-toothed creation was a Pavlova With Whipped Cream, which had all the textural delight of a mouthful of ash. Whoever thought that a dish that is risky enough at sea level could be fired to 35,000 feet and somehow turn out reliably well should be provided with the business card of a good careers’ advisor.
The cheese plate was a far more successful endeavour; far from abundantly generous but streets ahead of the almost stale and pre-packed Singapore Airlines effort. Top marks for that.
Having lost the will to live scrolling through episode number 28 of ‘The Flight of The Conchords’ in a vain attempt to get to anything vaguely interesting, a risky press of the ‘play’ button revealed that this most (only?) successful New Zealand TV export was actually even more soul-destroying than scrolling through the individual summary pages for each episode.
Beaten, I was then about to be cowed by the coffin seat which, of course, wouldn’t recline much beyond an Economy inclination. Not wanting to restrict myself to being flat out and therefore in an unsuitable position to read the non-existent in-flight magazine, or watch the introduction page slowly pass for episode number 41 of The Tedium of Comedies, the best that could be achieved was frequent visits to the toilet, the empty magazine rack and the buffet of warm water, so as to revel in the joy of being able to leave and return to the coffin with direct aisle access. What fun.
Some way out of Narita, the Captain turned on the Fasten Seat Belt Sign, in anticipation of, it was reported, some possible bumpiness ahead. With a steadiness otherwise characteristic only of being on stand at the gate, the 777 ploughed on Northwards, with nary a tremor to its wingtips.
The continuous illumination did allow the crew, however, to de-rate the remaining cabin service (the re-scheduled ‘Light Refreshment’) to paper cup level. Well, they were rushed off their feet, weren’t they, the poor (New Zealand) lambs?
The ever-smoother flight continued with our descent towards Japan and Tokyo Narita and, once on the ground and at the jettied stand, the crew were once again back into uncomfortable rote mode. Thankfully, we were disembarked quickly from the half-empty cabin and our friendly white-gloved pusher was waiting for us at the aircraft door.
Final Verdict for Air New Zealand Business Premier: 6.5/10. Given that there’s such a gulf between the 767 seat and this 777 bed, the difference in scores between Air New Zealand’s Business Class and Business Premier should have been far more marked – especially as the BP flight didn’t suffer from the boarding and seating shambles of the Perth sector. However, the same poor IFE, overall very average food with a choice of main course only, a lack of basic cabin amenities and a crew who did very little over and above the minimum – and then still appeared to switch service around to suit themselves – conspires to add a mere half point to the Perth score.
The seat, for a day flight, is simply not comfortable or versatile enough – even compared to a wedgie or a good cradle seat. On an overnight sector, the potentially more usable flat bed conversion and lack of requirement for service might have brought the score up to touch 7.0, but not on this flight. Priority Luggage tags did at least do their job and our bags were off the belt quickly. Overall then, an unremarkable effort with more than a hint of style over substance, and not one which would appear to objectively deserve more than a ‘well, you could possibly do worse’ type of recommendation.