Flight Date: 12AUG13—My last trip to New Zealand was in 2004 so I was excited at the prospect of returning to one of my favorite places on the planet. Air New Zealand usually operates B767s on the Auckland-Honolulu route however, due to increased winter season demand they have started using their B777-200 aircraft. Whereas the Air New Zealand B767 business class product is basically a glorified economy class seat, the B777-200 product is the real deal. Wow! What a difference.
Air New Zealand’s Honolulu-Auckland flight departs at 23:00. With only a two hour time difference (actually 22 hours) the overnight service works out perfectly; especially with the lie-flat seats in business class. After a quick bite to eat you can easily catch some Zzz’s and wake up refreshed.
Check-in at Honolulu International was a bit hectic. There was only one check-in clerk and although there were separate queues for business, premium economy and economy; people were sneaking over to the premier lane and this meant it took several minutes to get processed through. The check-in clerk was nice though and I felt a sorry for her having to deal with all those passengers by herself.
Air New Zealand do not have their own lounge and use JAL’s Sakura Lounge instead. I reviewed this lounge in April so please check out that trip report for info. and photos.
The gate was close by and I headed over early to snap some shots of the plane and the boarding area.
All seats were taken so I found a spot close to the jetway entrance under a monitor. The helpful clerk from check-in saw me and warned me by pointing up. A bird (Zebra Dove) had made its way inside the airport and was perched atop a video monitor. Uh oh…too late my feathered friend decided to relieve himself of some guano and it landed right on my bag! Oh well, I took this as a sign of good luck and since I was staying at the Skycity Grand Hotel, which has a casino, in Auckland I decided to try my luck after arrival.
Boarding was called and I made my way to seat 3K. The cabin lights were dimmed in the 1-2-1 configured business cabin and this gives my photos a cool purple hue. This is not Air New Zealand’s newest business class product, which can be found on the B777-300 aircraft, but nevertheless the herring bone-style cabin looked spotlessly clean and inviting.
Flight attendants were passing through the aisles greeting passengers and offering orange juice and champagne and I quickly finished off two glasses of bubbly. 🙂
Due to the late departure I had assumed the dinner service, if any, would be just an appetizer. To my surprise, they did offer a proper dinner service after all: with appetizer, main dish and dessert.
I chose the salmon pasta dish accompanied by my favorite wine: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
I’m not a big dessert eater, but the ice cream on today’s flight was really good!
Similarly to Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines; the NZ business class seats require you to stand up and flip over the seat back in order to create the bed. I prefer the traditional: press the button and go flat type, however the flight attendants were more than happy to help out and once in bed mode the seat is quite comfortable.
I decided to forgo breakfast in order to get as much sleep as possible. Thanks to the comfy seats I was able to get six hours of much needed sleep. Before I dozed off, I had a quick glance at the entertainment guide and noted the dearth of movie choices. I wonder if their new B777-300 and B787 planes offer a better selection?
I enjoyed my flight with Air New Zealand and the lie-flat business class seats on the B777-200 really made the difference. The flight attendants were cordial, efficient and quick to offer help when called upon. The in-flight meal service was slightly above average, but nothing to write home about. Loved the ice cream though, yum! Only three wine choices on board was a bit disappointing. The seats, while not the newest product around these days, were comfortable and I was able to get a full night’s sleep. I’m looking forward to the NZ B777-300 featuring their new business product which I will try out later in the year. I wouldn’t hesitate to fly with Air New Zealand again.