Tried & Tested

Air New Zealand B777-300ER Business Premier

27 Oct 2011 by ScottCarey7

BACKGROUND Air New Zealand also unveiled its new Business Premier product on its B777-300ERs at the end of last year. Based on Virgin Atlantic’s fully-flat product, it is in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout. 

CHECK-IN Air New Zealand’s international departures area is on the upper level of LAX’s Terminal 2. As I was transferring from Seattle for my 1630 departure on flight NZ2, I arrived earlier than I needed to at 1230. Check-in opened at 1330. There were three desks open in the premium zone and I was one of the first people there. At fast-track security there were two lanes open and one body scanner. I was airside by 1350.

THE LOUNGE The ANZ lounge is located a minute away up an escalator. It has a good range of facilities, including plenty of armchairs, power points, a business centre with PCs, free wifi, six shower suites and a self-service bar serving Kiwi wine and other refreshments. Food on offer included soup, cold roast beef, cheese, salads and antipasti. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the runway.

BOARDING After a couple of flight announcements, at 1600 I was escorted downstairs to Gate 23A with two other business passengers. On board, I was directed to my window seat (10A) and offered nuts and a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne. 

THE SEAT The 44-seat, 1-2-1 (A, B-J, K) herringbone configuration on the B777-300ER gives all passengers direct aisle access. Seats are split across two cabins separated by a galley – the first has rows one to seven, and the second rows nine to 12. As with premium economy, the look is slick and fresh, with pale leather upholstery and mood lighting.

A shell surround makes the seat feel private, and to convert it into a fully-flat bed, you press a button that releases the seat-back, which flips down to join the ottoman at the end. Crew provide mattresses, duvets and feather or hypoallergenic pillows.

The seat has universal in-seat power and a USB port. It is also fitted with the same excellent IFE system as in premium economy, although in business there is a larger 12-inch screen. Noise-cancelling headphones are provided, along with an amenity kit containing socks, La Prairie moisturiser, lip balm and eye cream, an eye mask, toothbrush and paste.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? You can’t really go wrong with the business seats on this plane as all have the same legroom, but bear in mind that rows one, seven and nine are close to the galleys so you may be disturbed. If you like the idea of being in a smaller cabin, opt for the second one. 

THE FLIGHT Take-off was a little late at 1640 and I was served a pre-dinner drink an hour later. There are two meal options – a full three-course dinner service or a faster two-course menu. I chose the former, and to start had roasted peppers, lettuce and feta with lemon vinaigrette. Although I had pre-ordered a vegetarian special meal for my main (handmade three-cheese ravioli), I was also given the choice of trying the set meat-free dish of vegetable and tofu coconut curry.

Both were beautifully presented and restaurant quality, thanks to the aircraft’s new induction ovens and dedicated onboard chef. Alternative dishes included citrus baked cod, seared New Zealand lamb loin and wood-roasted chicken salad. Dessert choices were ice cream, cheesecake, fresh fruit, cheese and biscuits. A comprehensive wine list of local vintages included Bird Wines Sauvignon Blanc, 2010 and Spy Valley Merlot/Malbec, 2008. 

After watching a couple of films I settled down to get some sleep, but even though it was very comfy, I found it difficult to nod off as it was quite hot and a bit too early for me. Two and a half hours before landing I was offered a generous breakfast selection of berry compote, granola, yoghurt, croissants, poached eggs, muffins, bacon rolls, juice or a smoothie. 

ARRIVAL We landed on time at 1100. Immigration was a ten-minute walk away – there were about a dozen people in line for the e-passport gates (two open) and twice as many in the fast-track lane (about four desks open). I chose the latter and was into baggage reclaim, where my priority-tagged case was waiting for me, by 1130. 

VERDICT It’s hard to fault the airline’s new business product. The fully-flat bed is very comfortable, the food and IFE outstanding, and the service from the crew memorable. I highly recommend it.

FACT FILE

PLANE TYPE B777-300ER 

SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1 (A, B-J, K)

SEAT WIDTH 22in/56cm

SEAT LENGTH 81in/206cm

SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight in December from London to LA started from £2,198. 

CONTACT airnewzealand.co.uk

Jenny Southan

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