Tried & Tested

Air New Zealand B787-9 Dreamliner Business Premier

28 Jun 2015 by Clement Huang

CHECK-IN

I arrived at Auckland Airport at 2150 for my 2300 departure and proceeded to Air New Zealand’s (Air NZ) exclusive premier check-in area to collect my boarding pass for the 12-hour service on NZ289 to Shanghai Pudong Airport. There were no queues and, using the private premium passenger elevator, I was at immigration and security within seconds, and airside a minute or so later. 

THE LOUNGE

Business premier and eligible Star Alliance status members have access to Air NZ’s Koru flagship lounge at Auckland Airport. The self-service lounge was not busy. The food and beverage selection was extensive and appetising. 

BOARDING

The flight was called at Gate 16 at 2230. Passengers in business class, premium economy and Star Alliance Gold status holders were given priority. Once in my seat (6A), I was offered a glass of New Zealand sparkling wine while the purser personally welcomed everyone in the cabin.

THE SEAT

Air NZ’s new B787-9 Dreamliner is fitted with 18 Business Premier seats in a spacious 1-1-1 configuration. Each seat is upholstered in sleek white leather featuring a generous 80-inch pitch and 22 inches in width. At the touch of the controls, the seat converts into a 180-degree flat bed equipped with a memory foam mattress. Entertainment comes via 11-inch high-definition touchscreens. The noise-cancelling headphones, large pillows and blankets provided made for a cosy and pleasant cabin atmosphere.

The seat, when converted, offered a good amount of sleep on this overnight flight. I managed more than seven hours following dinner and spent the remainder of the flight working on my laptop (in-built universal plugs) and browsing the in-flight entertainment. The on-demand selection comprised a wide array of recent blockbusters and Asian cinema, as well as TV programmes, all available in multiple languages. 

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE

I would perhaps avoid the first row on an overnight flight as the glare from the galley lights, and fellow passengers using the lavatories, may cause disturbance.

THE FLIGHT

We took off at 2305 and hot towels were handed out once airborne. A first round of drinks was offered about 20 minutes into the flight, followed by a late supper. 

To begin, there was Chinese spiced chicken with pickled lotus root, chilli jam and a mandarin salad, as well as a small smoked salmon salad, both accompanied by garlic bread and sourdough, or poppy seed, rolls. 

For mains, there were three choices: Wakanui beef burger with caramelised onions, cheese, bacon, beetroot and horopito chutney (a New Zealand native bush pepper); Sichuan-style twice-cooked pork belly; or Hapuka red coconut curry with brown rice. I had the burger and sampled a small serving of the fish curry – both were delicious. 

To finish, the pleasant crew served vintage strawberries, with fig ice cream, plus a selection of New Zealand cheese served with pear relish. 

For those who wanted to go to sleep sooner, a Fast Dine option comprising soup and dessert was available.

Air NZ offers a premium selection of award-winning New Zealand wines onboard. I was particularly impressed with the 2011 Hawke’s Bay Crossroads, a full-bodied Cabernet Merlot.

For breakfast, served about 90 minutes before landing, I had the caramelised apple waffles with passion fruit compote – a dish created by acclaimed Kiwi chef Peter Gordon – and loved it for being hot and crispy on the outside and perfectly soft and buttery inside.

ARRIVAL

We arrived at Shanghai Pudong at 0715, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. There were short queues at immigration and customs. Priority luggage came out first after a ten-minute wait at the belt.

VERDICT

Air NZ’s Business Premier is among the best business class products I’ve sampled in the past 12 months. The seat is conducive to getting a good amount of sleep, or work, when flying long-haul. The superb selection of food, wine and amenities was impressive. The cabin service was outstanding: personalised, refreshingly light-hearted and efficient.


FACT FILE

  • CONFIGURATION 1-1-1
  • SEAT WIDTH 22in/56cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
  • PRICE Internet rates for a semi-flexible, mid-week Auckland-Shanghai business class return flight in mid-August start at NZ$6,882 (US$4,808) including taxes and surcharges. 
  • CONTACT airnewzealand.com

Dominic Sebastian Lalk

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