BACKGROUND Air New Zealand flies daily between Hongkong and Auckland using a Boeing B777-200 ER, with Hongkong as the stopover point in its key super-longhaul London-Auckland route.
Flight NZ80 left Hongkong International Airport at 7.15pm and arrived the following morning at 11.10am, a flight time of 10 hours and 55 minutes. Cathay Pacific also operates a Hongkong-Auckland route. Note: Air New Zealand has subsequently recoded the flight to NZ38 and the flight departure is
now 6.10pm, arriving at 9am the following day.
CHECK IN I arrived at the check-in desks at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) about two and a half hours early. There was no queue and I was processed very quickly. I was also given a lounge invite due to a Star Alliance Gold Card, which allowed me to use the Singapore Airlines lounge, the best of the Star Alliance lounges at HKIA.
BOARDING There was no announcement in the Singapore Airlines lounge and so I kept my laptop on with the web browser directed to the airport’s departure site. There are also monitors outside the lounge. When I noticed on the website that the flight was boarding, around 6.35pm, I headed off. Departure gate 35 was 10 minutes walk away. I joined the priority queue and was shown my seat. The flight attendant greeted me by name and offered a choice of welcome drinks, including champagne. I was also asked my preference for the first drinks service.
THE SEAT My seat was 23H, in the first row of Pacific Premium Economy. There are four rows in Premium Economy (23-26) and the class is self-contained, with a galley separating it from Business Premium ahead and Economy behind. There are 36 Pacific Premium Economy seats in total.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE Opt for the seats in row 23 on the wing sides as these are next to the exit and provide excellent legroom. These are ABC and HJK. The middle seats in row 23, DEF, are up against the bulkhead.
FOOD AND DRINK As I had a large lunch and some snacks in the Singapore Airlines lounge, I opted for a light pasta and chicken dinner accompanied by some excellent white wine from the Marlborough region. I still wasn’t too hungry in the morning and stuck to fruit juice and some bread rolls.
THE FLIGHT The biggest surprise was the comfort of the seat. With legroom and no passenger next to me in the middle seat, I slept very soundly for most of the overnight hours. Although woken for breakfast, I still managed to doze through most of the last hour or so of the flight. This was by far the most comfortable non-Business Class flight I had taken in quite some time.
ARRIVAL On arrival at Auckland Airport, we were pretty much on schedule. As I had a connecting flight four hours later, I made my way to Air New Zealand’s Koru lounge to freshen up.
Configuration 1-2-1 in Business Premium, 3-3-3 in Premium Economy and Economy
Seat width 17.8 inches
Seat pitch 40.2 inches
Seat recline 36o
PRICE Air New Zealand’s website offers a Premium Economy Global Saver return in June for US$2,078.
Having flown Premium Economy on other airlines I was initially rather sceptical about the difference in service levels from standard Economy. Air New Zealand, on the other hand, has got it absolutely right. This was a very comfortable flight with excellent attentive service worthy of Business Class on many other airlines.