Air New Zealand Longhaul to London
In late October 2012 I flew with a group of 5 others from New Zealand on an Air New Zealand service to London.
My journey started in Queenstown and I was very impressed with the friendly and efficient service I received by the Air NZ check-in staff at Queenstown Airport. My luggage was checked right the way through to London and I was able to be seated near my fellow travellers who were joining in Auckland. My much anticipated request of an aisle seat and the possibility of spare seats surrounding me were also fulfilled.
In Auckland I joined my group who were able to take advantage of the premium check-in service. This was an extremely quick and easy process with hardly any queues and once again the friendly and helpful manner of the staff was noticed. From the premium check-in there is a lift up to customs/immigration and a fast track queue for this also.
We were lucky enough to receive a guided tour of the Koru Lounge at Auckland International Airport. Air New Zealand have done a fantastic job of making the lounge a very relaxed “Kiwi” inspired atmosphere. Lounge passes can be purchased at a cost of NZD$55 for 4 hours. Koru Club members flying with another airline are able to purchase at a cost of NZD$30 for 4 hours. The purchase of lounge passes are subject to space available.
The 11 hrs 30 min flight via Hong Kong departed on time just before midnight. The service was on a Boeing 777-200 and the configuration on the flight was 3, 3, 3. The crew and service were good and the Air NZ uniforms are extremely smart yet “styly” and the staff love wearing them. There was a great choice of entertainment with new release movies, old favourites, tv shows, games and music to listen to – caters for everyone’s needs. Being a night service blankets and pillows were distributed throughout the aircraft and sleeping masks and socks were available on request.
Food was excellent throughout – we received two main meals on each sector and for lunches/dinners usually a choice of chicken and beef or fish and breakfast was scrambled eggs with sausage or pancakes or fruit platter. Snacks served in between were sandwiches or rolls and NZ Kapiti icecream – yum!! Drinks service also came around before dinner, with dinner and another round after dinner! Cold water was also distributed every few hours during the flight as it is so important to keep hydrated during a long flight.
We had a 3 hour stop in Hong Kong – the transit process was very easy with lots of signage and people pointing you in the right direction at each corner. When we first arrived into Hong Kong Airport at just after 6 in the morning it was a bit like a ghost town with hardly any shops open for the first hour or so, this surprised me being a large, fairly busy hub. Once they eventually opened there was a wide selection to peruse and fix that shopping urge! All feeling a little weary after the long flight, the Starbucks coffee shop in the departure gate area was certainly well utilised.
Unfortunately due to loadings our return journey was still not confirmed when we arrived back at London Heathrow at the end of our trip. However, we immediately identified the Air NZ airport manager (Will) who was extremely helpful and did all possible to get us sorted and on the flights. He was also a huge help in assisting one of our group who had just discovered her passport was missing and managed to get her on a later flight via Hong Kong and able to travel with only a copy of her passport. Once again check-in staff were extra helpful and patient whilst we sorted our confirmed seats.
The service via Los Angeles was on the new 777-300 aircraft and I really enjoyed flying on this – apart from the fact the flight was chocka full! The décor is modern and the touch screen entertainment is great. You also have the ability to order snacks, sleeping kit, drinks etc. from your seat at certain times of the flights is a fantastic feature. The configuration on this aircraft is 3, 4, 3 – the staff also mentioned they really enjoy working on this aircraft except the aisles are a bit narrower making the trolley service a little more difficult.
Some of the passengers surrounding me had purchased the economy skycouch. These were extremely popular with these being sold out on the London – Los Angeles sector. The staff came by at the beginning of each flight with extra equipment for the skycouch and explain how they work. The people that had these seemed to be happy and really appreciated that they had the ability to lie down and get a proper sleep.
Unfortunately we had to collect luggage and clear customs in Los Angeles because we were still waitlisted on the Los Angeles to Auckland sector. Apart from a longish queue at immigration and the fingerprinting ( a bit over the top!) the process was not too bad!! People avoid Los Angeles Airport like the plague but I would quite happily choose to do this routing again, especially if it allows me to travel on the 777-300 aircraft!