If you’ve ever met a Kiwi — a New Zealander, not the bird — then you already know that they’re some of the most laidback, welcoming and friendly people you’ll ever come across. Translate that into the service that you get in Business Premier with Air New Zealand and you have something that all business travellers should take note of. From dedicated check-in services and curated selections of New Zealand wines and beers to the lie-flat bed you’ll need for every long-haul flight from now on, read on for our review on the airline that gave me an amazing sleep in the sky.
Airline: Air New Zealand
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Class: Business Premier
Checked Baggage Allowance: 2 pieces at 23kg each
Flight Duration: 11 hours, 40 minutes
Route: Auckland (AKL) to Hong Kong (HKG)
If, like me, you’re not fond of waiting, then you’ll likely enjoy the extreme swiftness of the private Business Premier check-in. Friendly staff assisted us as soon as we walked into the terminal, and it was only a few short minutes before they handed over my boarding pass and fast-track priority screening. It’s quick and seamless. You can even take a private elevator through to immigration and bypass what would usually be a much longer wait.
After doing a little duty-free shopping, it’s worth stopping by the Air New Zealand Auckland Lounge — after all, it is their flagship lounge. The lounge features tailored seating zones with plenty of space to relax, take a shower, or even get some work done with the free WiFi. Personally, it was definitely a good decision to visit the lounge as the flight was delayed and I had an hour or so to spare. First order of business: Make use of the fully stocked bar of New Zealand wines and craft beers, which I absolutely did, and found them to be fantastic. I also enjoyed the hot food buffet which included a mushroom risotto and chicken stew, alongside a salad bar and lots of different cheeses.
Space & Comfort: 8/10
The Business Premier cabin is configured with 26 seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout and fitted with fully lie-flat beds. Upon entering the plane, the rows from 1 to 7 were softened with mood lighting for passengers to wind down for the night flight. The diagonal seating felt odd at first as I was facing the aisle and other passengers, so despite the curved back wall, it didn’t feel very private. I was also angled away from the window, which meant no fluffy cloud views. However, the seat’s saving grace is the lie-flat bed mode and turndown service with a memory foam mattress pad, duvet and pillows. It was the best sleep I’ve ever had on a long-haul flight and probably the most comfortable, too.
Food & Beverages: 8/10
The food menu was interesting and featured New Zealand accents. Highlights included prosciutto with pomegranate and black pepper paste, Fiddlers Hill goat cheese and pistachios, as well as the warm bread and Hawke’s Bay extra virgin olive oil. Next up was the main dish of Marlborough salmon with rose harissa saffron sauce; created by New Zealand chef Peter Gordon, it came with baby potatoes and seared zucchini with capers. The most noteworthy aspect, though, was the selection of fine New Zealand cheeses, quince paste and crackers that went down beautifully with a glass of local wine.
Since boarding was delayed, it was nice to be able to get on the plane in a speedy manner. Business class passengers were filed through a separate door and flight attendants were ready to greet, assist and serve Business Premier guests. Next, a hot towel and pre-departure drink were offered and while I sipped champagne, I was asked what I wanted for my meal to follow. Service was quick and attentive: snacks and drinks were offered quietly while I watched a movie and my fellow passengers slept soundly. When I finally decided to retire, my bed was made while I freshened up in the bathroom.
The screen was definitely on the smaller side at just 12.6 inches wide. It was however, smartly stored in the seat wall. I was also fairly impressed by the wide entertainment offering with a good selection of movies, TV shows and box sets, including some recent releases, too — not to mention the classics such as Lord of The Rings, naturally.
A compact amenities kit was offered on board the flight, and it had all the essentials inside: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, earplugs, eye mask, flight socks, moisturiser and lip balm. The toiletries are from local Auckland brand Ashley & Co. and though I didn’t use much of it (I brought most of my own), my chapped in-flight lips were extremely grateful for the lip balm.
The main facility is definitely the lie-flat bed complete with memory foam mattress, duvets and pillows. Other than the separate business class bathroom and the free 10 minute WiFi pass that all Air New Zealand passengers can make use of, there’s not much else of note on this carrier.