Is Air New Zealand One Of The World’s Best Airlines?
By Leroy Tyler
Want to know what it’s like to fly the skies on Air New Zealand? Leroy Tyler tried the airline for the first time recently and will tell you what to expect before you book your flight.
This review will focus on my trip from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles, California.
A week before departure, Air New Zealand notified me of an aircraft change from a 777-300ER to a 777-200. I had initially prepaid for my seat, but due to the aircraft change, they changed my seat and gave me a refund. I booked this flight specifically for reviewing purposes, and since it was $300 one-way, I couldn’t pass it up.
Upon arrival at Auckland International Airport, I proceeded to the check-in area, scanned my passport and printed my luggage tag and boarding pass. I couldn’t help but notice that the ENTIRE airport was catered to travelers being self-sufficient. There were no agents at the check-in area, the bag drop is completely self-sufficient, and the process was quick, easy and convenient.
After checking in, I proceeded to immigration. I filled out the departure card, proceeded through immigration, and headed to Gate 17 for a 7:30 p.m departure for Los Angeles. Upon reaching the gate, I stood in line for questioning about the nature of my trip to New Zealand, what I do for work, and how long I was there for. Standard protocol for US-bound flights these days.
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Upon boarding and walking past the premium economy cabin, I couldn’t help but notice how roomy the cabin was despite the 10-across seating and the full flight. I settled into my seat for the 12-hour journey and noticed how amazing the legroom and seat was. Even with the seat in front of me reclined, it didn’t intrude my leg space. Granted, I’m only 5’9, but the man next to me was 6’4 and he had no issues whatsoever. The boarding doors closed, safety instructions were presented, we pushed back on time, taxied for 15 minutes, and those beautiful GE90 engines powered the aircraft down the runway for takeoff.
Shortly after takeoff, I dozed off. I had no idea the meal service started until I smelled food. When I asked about food, the only option left was the chicken and rice dish, with bread and butter, a drink of your choice, and a lemon shortcake dessert.
After I ate, I passed out for the next eight or so hours. Upon waking up, I decided to explore the in-flight entertainment since this aircraft wasn’t equipped with wifi. The system was LOADED with entertainment options, from series like Black Lightning, Barry and Suits, to classic Disney films like Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, Mary Poppins, and Lion King. The screen is the most sensitive screen I’ve ever touched, and it was so sensitive that you can navigate it with your fingernail with no problem.
90 minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served. Options were scrambled eggs with sausage, mixed fruit, strawberry yogurt, and a drink, or cereal with the same items as the scrambled eggs. After breakfast, I got up to walk and stretch my legs, and to chat with the flight attendants. They were by far the friendliest crew on any flight I’ve ever been on. They were so charismatic, helpful and hysterical.
While stretching, the pilot gave the landing announcement and I returned to my seat. We made a sharp turn to line up in position to land at LAX. The landing was so smooth, the guy next to me didn’t even know we landed! We touched down at around 1PM the same afternoon we departed New Zealand thanks to the international dateline.
Upon disembarking, there were no gates available, so there were multiple buses to transport us to passport control. While on the bus, I had a chance to thank the pilots and crew for making this one of the best flying experiences of my life.
In my opinion, in order for an airline to be great, comfort is one determining factor, but the redeeming factor is a great crew, and Air New Zealand did just that in perfect fashion.
I’ve flown all of the legacy carriers from Qantas and Virgin Australia over the Pacific, but after this flight, Air New Zealand will be my airline of choice going down under.