A lot of people dread flying, particularly long international flights. I have decided that not only do I not mind them, I look forward to them. Ok, it’s true that by hour ten I may be ready to open the door and jump, but overall it’s not a bad experience. What helps in this process of getting from point A to B is of course the conveyance, who you choose to fly.
Long-haul travel should almost never have anything to do with the lowest price, it should always depend on the quality of the available airlines. It’s too long of an experience to ignore comfort, which is why I was thrilled when I found out I was taking Air New Zealand on my trip to the land of the Kiwis.
It was my first time flying with Air New Zealand, but they’d been on my mind lately thanks to their new safety video, Fit to Fly, featuring the cryogenically preserved Richard Simmons. I soon learned there are many more reasons to choose Air New Zealand.
I flew from LAX to Auckland on a Boeing 777-300. I’ve been on 777s before for long hauls, and I usually enjoy the way in which airlines have them configured for comfort and convenience. Air New Zealand was no exception.
In what appears to be a growing trend, there was no First Class cabin, in its place were expanded Business Premier and Premium Economy sections. The Business class section was stunning, and offers a lot of benefits First Class customers on other airlines have come to expect.
One of my great complaints when flying Business Class on long haul aircraft is that the seats usually aren’t fully lie-flat. They’re close, but they’re not quite there. I know I won’t get much sympathy for complaining about nearly flat beds on a long flight, but gradually sliding down as you sleep on a bed that is slightly inclined is, in fact, annoying. Air New Zealand heard our cries though and now offers fully lie flat beds in their Business Premier on nearly all of their long haul aircraft. Not only that, but the bed is 6’7” – even someone tall like me fits!
Let’s be honest, when buying Business Premier or Premium Economy, it’s all about the seats and one’s comfort. But the other perks are nice as well. In addition to the super comfy lie flat super bed (my name for it) passengers enjoy an expansive, world class menu accompanied with the best New Zealand wines and an amenity kit that isn’t only luxurious, but will make you want to steal them and give them out as Christmas presents. Overall, nothing but massive praise for what is in my opinion one of the best international business products on the market.
Premium Economy is a relative newcomer to the aviation comfort arena, but obviously it has performed well for Air New Zealand given the number of seats accommodated on the 777. The rows are set up in a 2-2-2 configuration, more like business class than economy, and the ’Spaceseat’ looks like a mini-business class hard-shell. On the 777, the seats offer an amazing seat pitch, 41”. That’s ten more inches of leg room than economy and for someone tall like me, it pays for the ticket almost immediately.
Along with the seat comfort are some additional benefits one would assume: amenity kit, refreshment bar, expanded meal menus and so on.
Air New Zealand has made a significant investment in its premium economy service and it absolutely is one of the best in the world. This is a great alternative to business class for normal economy class passengers who want a little more comfort on their long-haul flight.
Lest you think Air New Zealand doesn’t care about their economy customers, that’s definitely not the case. The colored lighting and peaceful ambiance that one first encounters in the business class section carries through to the back of the plane and the entire aircraft seems to be designed for maximum comfort on what are always long flights.
Air New Zealand focuses on the total flight experience, which is well evident in economy class. Comfortable seats, fantastic seat-back entertainment options and meals that people actually want to eat are all features for the economy guest. Although not reserved solely for economy class customers, each long haul flight also has an in-flight concierge, something I haven’t seen before. This is a non-flight attendant crew member whose job is to see after the comfort and well being of the passengers and to answer any destination questions they may have. At first it may seem a little ostentatious, but it is actually ingenious. Not only does the presence of a concierge seem like a massive added benefit to the passengers, but the concierge takes over most of the ancillary duties flight attendants would normally have to attend to. It’s a great solution to relieving stress and pressure on flight attendants while making the passengers feel special. Why don’t all airlines feature this?
Overall, my experience flying with Air New Zealand on two 12-hour flights could not have been better. From check-in to arrival, everything was seamless. The airline also has a certain intangible quality of ‘coolness’ that while hard to define, is pervasive and adds to the overall quality of the product. I strongly recommend flying with Air New Zealand whenever possible, I just wish I had more chances to enjoy their service.