The premium check-in area (next to zone A) offers self-service kiosks as well as two staffed check-in counters. The process was swift and efficient, although I struggled with the e-passport channel.
The Air New Zealand Lounge is a cavernous place, split into various sections. The buffet had a fairly meagre “hot” food offering (the pasta was barely warm), but a much better cold plate selection. Other lounge amenities included a cinematic screen showing sport, capacious shower facilities, a family room and an “alfresco” area with a green wall of plants and swing hammocks.
The flight was called 30 minutes before scheduled take-off. Once on board I was offered champagne, water or orange juice and my jacket was hung up. A flight attendant explained the seat’s functions and pointed out useful details, such as the power outlet in the side pocket. The plane took off at 0020.
I was in 2K, a window seat at the front. Configurated in a 1-2-1 herringbone pattern, all seats face towards the aisle. A memory foam mattress and bedding is stored behind the seat.
The seat “pods” are constructed from spacecraft-like moulded plastic in metallic light grey, while the seats are white leather of a high quality – it’s a sleek, attractive looking package. My seat motor was quite noisy but worked smoothly.
An 11-inch screen comes with touch controls that are easier to master than many. The side pocket fits a laptop and notepad, and there is more shelf space for sundries in the corner of the pod. The table offers a large metal surface.
The amenity kit comes in a bag made from recycled material (the exact size to fit an iPad) and contains socks, eye mask, toothbrush, pen, earplugs and Antipodes skincare products – vanilla pod day cream and paw-paw lip balm.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE
The 26 seats, all with direct aisle access, seem fairly equal in appeal. Window seats angle inwards making gazing outside the plane difficult, while there are galleys and toilets at each end, so perhaps a central seat is quietest.
The great differentiator for this airline is its staff and their friendly but efficient manner. All passengers were addressed by name, which was impressive and created a good atmosphere.
Dinner was served quickly: for the starter there was a choice of either tea-smoked salmon or char siu chicken – I chose the former, which had great flavour – and of four main courses I plumped for the gourmet beef burger with caramalised onion, Swiss cheese and bacon. The bun was quite dry, but the filling was very tasty.
I watched a new-release movie while I ate – there are 580 hours of IFE available from the moment you sit down till arrival at gate; the screen was clear and the active noise-cancelling headphones very effective.
After working, I used the bathroom while the crew laid out my bed. The mattress is excellent, a six-footer will be accommodated easily, and with two good pillows I slept very well for five hours.
Breakfast was served 90 minutes before arrival; for me it comprised a smoothie, fruit and yoghurt, coffee and an omelette plate – no complaints at all.
As we began our descent, the purser asked every passenger how the flight had been and if there was anything they could improve upon – a touch of class.
We touched down at HKIA at 0616, just 11 minutes behind schedule – and were at the gate five minutes later. Priority disembarking saw me at an empty immigration in another five, and I was on the train to Hong Kong by 0635.
The combination of a quality seat product, good F&B and a great balance between friendliness and efficient service made this a great flight. The airline punches above its weight and deserves the plaudits it often gets.
- DEPARTURE 2350
- JOURNEY TIME 11 hours 15 minutes
- CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
- BED LENGTH 79.5in/201cm
- SEAT WIDTH 22in/56cm
- SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek return Business Premier flight from Auckland to Hong Kong in mid-August start from NZ$5,803 (US$3,900) including taxes and surcharges.
- CONTACT airnewzealand.com