Flight Test: NZ108 Sydney to Auckland in Business Class
I needed to be in New Zealand for a family wedding so booked myself a seat with Air NZ. It’s been a while since flying with the carrier in Business Class and I have always enjoyed the onboard product. Since the airline removed Business class from it’s A320 fleet I haven’t had an opportunity to fly in a non-A320 aircraft so I was looking forward to this Business service. The flight was on one of Air NZ’s 767-300ER aircraft that departs Sydney in the evening at 18:40 and arrives close to midnight in Auckland – the flight is typically laden with business people due to the business friendly departure time.
I arrived at the airport and made my way to the Air New Zealand premium check-in counter where I was greeted with what seemed to be a 10 minute wait – surprisingly Economy was being processed more quickly (though in my experience this is fairly out of character for Air NZ). I had my boarding pass in my hot little hands within about 30 seconds of arriving at the desk – I then made my way through the immigration and security labyrinth. As per usual I picked up some duty free and wandered to the Air New Zealand lounge (which might I add a bit of a marathon to get to – bring your sneakers).
The Air New Zealand lounge (named Koru Lounge) is a well placed lounge at the Southern end of the International Terminal. It commands great views of the tarmac and if you’re lucky you can score a window seat and watch all the comings and goings of the airport. Unfortunately for me my favorite seat wasn’t available so I had to sit one row back. The food and beverage offerings are fairly typical of an airline lounge, though I feel that it excels compared to the Qantas Business Lounge. I was in the lounge for roughly an hour and had a wine or three to relax in that time. Before long the fight was called and I made my way to the gate.
Boarding was well structured with separate Economy and Premium lines for boarding – I was seen to quickly and on my way to the aircraft. The welcome on Air NZ is always fresh and vibrant and, as a Kiwi living abroad, I almost feel like I’m home (cliché isn’t it?). The crew today by this point had already impressed upon me that they were going to be a great team. Before I knew it I had a menu for the meal and a glass of champagne – although it was only Piper champagne, it’s much better than sparkling wine that is passed off as champagne on other airlines. I wasn’t complaining and I even managed to fit a second glass in. The load wasn’t as full with 10 out of 24 seats being free (one of which was next to me – bonus).
The 767-300ER aircraft have a cradle like seat in Business Class. Whilst this isn’t as impressive as a lie-flat or herringbone configuration seen on other carriers, it’s more than comfortable for a short 3-hour hop across the Tasman. The seats are leather and command roughly 50” pitch and 18” width. If you’re lucky with Air New Zealand you may be able to get a 777 or 747 which has more superior seats in the Business cabin.
Meals & Service
Brendon was primarily working my side of the aircraft and he was simply fantastic – he was always being proactive and had such a chirpy demeanor. The meal itself was OK for an airline meal: there was some weird citrus jelly in my entre which I thought seemed out of place. Unfortunately I didn’t get my first choice when the Main’s came around and I really didn’t like the other options, so I kindly asked Brendon if he could get me a Economy meal which he subsequently found. I was surprisingly impressed with the Beef stew meal from Economy and I was happy I made the decision to switch. The wines onboard were tasty: both the Lawsons Sav & Gertzweiner were on offer and I was happy with both. Another flight attendant named Shelley ensured that my wine glass never went empty (did I say I loved the flight attendants?).
Air NZ has individual video screens for every seat on the 767-300ER aircraft, though the screens in Business Class are slightly larger and emerge (like a puzzle) from the centre armrest console. The selection of movies and video available were great for an irregular flyer though I could imagine that after a few consecutive flights the content could get boring. I watched the latest Mission Impossible movie which kept me entertained.
Air NZ really put on a winning service for this flight. It reminded me why I love Air NZ and it’s casual yet professional crew. Rhonda, who was the CSM for the flight, really pulled out all of the stops and was proactive in the cabin – helping out the crew in the Business cabin wherever needed. The food didn’t hugely blow me away but let’s face it: getting gourmet in the skies is hard to find. The wine was great – I have never had a bad wine selection on Air NZ. Well recommended!