Recently, I had a blast testing out Air New Zealand business class between Auckland and Adelaide, flying the Boeing 777-300 aircraft. It was an enjoyable and stylish way to cross the Tasman. Keen to try it out? Read on for an in-depth review and find out how to make the most of your journey.
Booking my Air New Zealand business class ticket
A one-way ticket in Air New Zealand business class (or Air NZ Business Premier, as it is officially known) on this route will generally set you back around $1,100 NZD one way, (slightly less when on sale). On flights to and from busier Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney, Air New Zealand is similarly priced to the other carriers that ply these trans-Tasman routes (think Qantas and Virgin Australia), but it's currently the only full-service carrier flying directly to Adelaide. As a consequence, the lack of competition means that pricing isn't particularly sharp on this route.
Rather not fork out the cash? Consider instead using Air New Zealand Airpoints Dollars to help offset the cost of your ticket. Alternatively, you can try to redeem an award ticket with an airline scheme that offers Air New Zealand flight bookings. While it can be quite difficult to find availability for Air New Zealand business class seats, they do emerge from time to time.
In my case, I was able to locate and book my Air NZ seat just a few weeks out using United Airlines Mileage Plus miles (25,000 miles + approx $140 NZD in taxes).
The Air New Zealand Auckland Airport experience
If you're wanting to try Air NZ business class, then Auckland Airport is where you should depart from – for two good reasons.
First up, you'll enjoy access to the private Business Premier check-in area. Simply waltz through the doors and wait for a friendly agent to personally assist you with the check-in process (no lines!). Once you have your boarding pass and priority screening fast-track in hand, a private elevator will whisk you to Immigration NZ, allowing you to bypass the masses.
Once you've cleared security, you'll have the opportunity to visit the Air New Zealand Auckland Lounge. The Lounge features a number of different spaces to relax and kick back in, including a full-length outdoor terrace complete with living plant wall and sweeping tarmac views. As a flagship offering, the Air NZ Auckland Lounge doesn't disappoint.
With my flight due to depart at 8.45 am, I checked in around 6.30 am, cleared security and proceeded directly to the Air New Zealand Lounge. It was crowded for such an early hour, but with plenty of seating areas, I was able to find a comfortable place to perch next to windows overlooking the tarmac.
I immediately made my way to the bar and ordered a double shot latte. I sat down to enjoy a tasty bowl of fruit and yoghurt and a cooked to order omelette from the breakfast station whilst enjoying the view of Auckland Airport comings and goings.
Before long, it was time for me to make my way to the gate which was a ten-minute walk away. As I approached gate six, I spotted my shiny Air NZ 777.
First impressions: Air New Zealand business class cabin
Boarding commenced slightly late, at around 8.15 am. After the wheelchair assisted passengers had boarded, Air NZ Business Premier passengers were invited to come forward to board the aircraft. Once my boarding pass was scanned, I made my way down the walkway, embarked the aircraft and turned left into the business cabin.
The Air New Zealand 777-300 Business Premier cabin features 44 seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration. The cabin is bathed in soft mood-lighting and feels quite airy. I was surprised at how ‘fresh' the cabin felt, despite its age.
Space is divided into the main cabin of 28 seats and a second, smaller cabin of 16 seats.
Air New Zealand business class seats
The Air NZ herringbone seat has been in operation since 2011. Each seat offers direct aisle access but is angled away from the window. This may be a disappointment for you if, like me, you enjoy spending your flying time gazing out at the clouds.
Each Air New Zealand business class seat is upholstered in off-white leather, measuring 22 inches in width and 79 inches when in lie flat mode. A separate black leather ottoman acts as a handy seat for a dining companion and provides storage.
Low, curved walls offer some privacy. However, when seated upright, you're facing into the middle of the aisle and may have other passengers (if not their propped up feet!) in your line of view.
A number of convenient storage and stowage options are at hand. These include a magazine pocket under the entertainment screen, bag stowage underneath the separate ottoman and adjustable armrest with storage pocket.
A small drop-down tray is perfectly sized to house a glass of champagne, and the main tray table is a generous size and perfectly suitable for working on a laptop as well as dining.
While a number of other business-class carriers offer angle-flat seats, the Air New Zealand 777 business class seat converts to a true lie-flat bed – a big tick in my book. Simple seat controls allow you to convert your seat to a fully lie-flat bed at the touch of a button.
Which seat should you choose in Air New Zealand 777 business class?
As a herringbone middle facing product with a standard configuration, all seats offer a similar level of comfort and direct aisle access – there are no lemons here.
If you're sensitive to noise, or on a long-haul flight and wanting to catch some sleep, you may wish to avoid the seats closest to the galley – namely, rows one and two at the front of the cabin, and seven and twelve at the back of the cabin.
If privacy is important, you might choose to sit in the second, smaller cabin located directly in front of economy. However, if you're flying a short, daytime trans-Tasman crossing like I was, you're likely to be perfectly happy seated at the front of the cabin.
Air New Zealand in-flight entertainment system and WiFi
The Air New Zealand business class entertainment screen is on the small side at just 12.6 inches wide. It's stored within the seat wall, with a remote, USB and universal power sockets located underneath.
Despite the small size of the entertainment screen, I was impressed by the Air New Zealand entertainment offering. A huge selection of movies, tv shows and box sets were available, including a number of very recent releases.
I was excited to find that WiFi was available in-flight. It's something that I think all airlines should be working towards on international flights, and I'm glad to see Air New Zealand has committed to expanding its offering here.
All passengers receive a free 10 minute Air NZ WiFi pass, with a full flight pass costing $10NZD on Australia and Pacific Islands routes. While I'd love to see Air New Zealand offer free WiFi, these prices are reasonable when compared with other carriers.
Dining aboard Air New Zealand 777 business class
Shortly after I'd settled in my seat, the friendly crew came around to offer me a drink and to provide a hot towel. A choice of orange juice, water or champagne was available. Air New Zealand currently offers either Billecart NV or Laurent Perrier NV champagne on trans-Tasman routes. Both are lovely and would be at the top of my list for NV champagne picks.
As I sipped my champagne, I read through the Air New Zealand business class menu. Early morning flights crossing the Tasman receive a breakfast service, while return flights enjoy a full lunch service.
To start with, I enjoyed a serving of fruit salad. This was accompanied by a selection of fresh bread and toast. For my main course, I chose the ham and asparagus omelette smoked cheddar, beetroot relish and Bearnaise sauce. My meal was accompanied by a delicious blueberry, coconut yoghurt and chia smoothie.
While I'm not usually a fan of plane breakfasts, all dishes tasted fresh and showcased New Zealand produce in a positive way.
Around an hour from landing, I was surprised to see the crew come around with morning tea. On offer were a selection of cakes, pastries and sandwiches. I opted for a bit sized lemon curd tart and a trio of sandwiches.
After morning tea, I took the opportunity to flick through the entertainment offerings, catching a 30-minute show. Before long, the captain announced our descent, and it was time to say goodbye to my Air New Zealand Business Premier experience.
Air NZ business class: My verdict
Overall, I was very impressed with my experience at the pointy end of the plane.
While the Air New Zealand herringbone seat can be somewhat polarising, the lie-flat ability of the seat is a big advantage over some other competitors, and I was extremely comfortable during my 4.5-hour flight.
The service and banter provided by cheerful Air New Zealand crew were, as always, delightful, and I enjoyed the high-quality food and beverage options on offer.
Trans-Tasman routes are operated by a number of other carriers, and it's still possible to access the glitz and glamour of Emirates business class across the ditch. However, I certainly wouldn't hesitate to fly Air New Zealand again.
What do you think of Air New Zealand business class? Let us know in the comments!
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