Flight Review Air New Zealand NZ84 – Auckland (AKL) to Vancouver (YVR)

By Steve Biddle, in , posted: 8-Sep-2014 20:50

I’ve flown business class on Air New Zealand three times in the past year, however all these flights have been on 767-300 aircraft that feature an old style business class offering and lack lie-flat seats. A holiday to Canada and the US with three friends was the perfect opportunity to check out Air New Zealand’s long haul offering on their 777-200. The trip was made even more special with the whole four of us sitting in Business Premier.

Air New Zealand’s long haul offering is a very mixed bag at present. Flights are operated by 767-300, 777-200ER (77E), 777-300ER (77W) and 747-400 (744) aircraft, all of which offer very different offerings across economy, premium economy and business class. As I write this, their single remaining 747-400 is due to be retired from the fleet this week. Long haul services of their new 787-900 are due to begin within the next month.

The 767-300 lacks lie-flat seating, instead opting for a short haul business class offering (you can read my flight review here), and also lacks a premium economy offering. The 777-200, 777-300ER, 747-400 and 787-900 all feature three classes of service. All feature Virgin Atlantic’s business class seat in a herringbone layout, ensuring that every passenger has direct aisle access which is one of the great features of Air New Zealand’s offering.

Boarding for out flight was on time and I was greeted by a nice smile and welcome while boarding. Air New Zealand typically only use a single door for boarding all passengers, with separate queues at the counter for economy and premium customers.

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I had seat 3K for my  flight. Despite being a window seat, looking out the window is slightly difficult due to the angle of the seat – something that’s not a fault as such, but if you’re somebody who likes gazing out the window you may end up slightly disappointed.

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The 77E still features an old Rockwell Collins in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. This is a 4:3 aspect ratio, non touch screen system. While content is virtually identical across all long haul aircraft, this is an old system that’s very clunky to use compared to the newer Panasonic touch screen systems features on the 767-300, 777-300 and 787-900 aircraft. The newer Panasonic systems also offer additional features such as ordering drinks and snacks from the IFE.

As I write this the 777-200 fleet is currently in the process of being refitted with entirely new seats across all cabins, and a new Panasonic IFE system. The first aircraft is complete, and a second is underway at present. The upgrade of the entire fleet of 777-200 aircraft is due for completion by late 2015. The business class seats will match these that feature in the 777-300 and 787-900 aircraft, which is simply an upgraded model of this same seat.

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Upon sitting down I was welcomed by the cabin crew and inflight service manager and offered a glass of Champagne or orange juice. Air New Zealand serve Mumm Champagne, and as I’m a fan I felt it would be rude to turn this down. The seats feature an ottoman which also features a seatbelt so it can be used as a seat if a travel partner wants to join at meal times.

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The seat features space for phones, headphones, reading material etc in storage areas underneath the screen, and also inside a pop up storage bin.

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On every seat there is a menu, and amenity kit featuring Clarins lip balm & moisturiser, socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, eye mask and a pen. Noise cancelling headphones are also provided, which are a lot better than most airline headphones, are certainly no match for my Bose QC15s.

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Just before takeoff orders were taken for a drinks service which was delivered as we reached cruise altitude. This was accompanied by pretzels and dip. Another glass of Mumm? It’d be rude to say no.

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Not long after this the appetiser was served, along with a choice of breads.

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This was followed by the main. I opted for the roast chicken breast which was simply  delicious.

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Deciding what to have for desert was a tough decision. I opted for the cheesecake which was delicious, however I’m assured the tart was fantastic as well.IMG_20140806_220323

After a few more glasses of  red wine followed by  a Glemorange 10yr as a nightcap, it was time to sleep. The crew had my seat converted to a bed in record time.  A memory  foam mattress sits on top of the seat, complete with 2 full size pillows.

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I managed to get a good 5 hours sleep on out 13 hour flight and awoke to a choice of juice or a fruit smoothie.

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Which was followed by fresh fruit, a choice of cereals and muesli, and yoghurt. This was accompanied by  a selection of bakery  items including croissants or toast.

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And followed down by a delicious brioche. I’d had this before and loved it, but it was a tough choice between that and the corn fritters which looked great!

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It wasn’t long after breakfast that we made landfall, tracking into Vancouver over Victoria Island which delivered some great views out the window.

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And ZK-OKD parked up at Vancouver Airport.

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Overall the flight was awesome – the crew were amazing and the food and drinks were great. The level of service was significantly better than that which I’d experience in several recent Air New Zealand business class trips on the 767, which does feature different crew. They  were certainly a lot friendlier, and more attentive. This does however lead to the fundamental problem Air New Zealand has at present, and that’s differing levels of service, and different products across the fleet. This is something that won’t be solved for another couple of years until the 777-200 refit is complete, and the 767’s removed from service as they’re gradually replaced by the 787-900.



Other related posts:
Air New Zealand launches Flexitime Membership (and how it can save you $$$)
Have an interest in retail payments and credit card interchange rates? Here’s your chance to have a say.
Fairfax takes journalism ethics and integrity to a whole new low with Stuff fibre








Comment by corksta, on 9-Sep-2014 07:59

That'll be OKD. OXD is one of the domestic A320s.

My wife is an ISM on the B767 and B789, I have to say I'm pretty lucky because I get to fly in Business on pretty much every international flight I go on.


Author's note by sbiddle, on 9-Sep-2014 08:03

Oops fixed that typo.

The difference between crew on the longhaul vs 767 is really evident. I've had plenty of people tell me the 767 crew are better because they have to make up for a substandard product with better service, but that's not my experience.


Comment by sonyxperiageek, on 9-Sep-2014 12:08

I'm surprised you chose to sleep for 5 hours on business premier!


Comment by johnr, on 9-Sep-2014 18:43

I got About 7 - 8 hours Sleep 


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Steve Biddle
Wellington
New Zealand


I'm an engineer who loves building solutions to solve problems.


I also love sharing my views and analysis of the tech world on this blog, along with the odd story about aviation and the travel industry.

My interests and skillset include:

*VoIP (Voice over IP). I work with various brands of hardware and PBX's on a daily basis
  -Asterisk (incl PiaF, FreePBX, Elastix)
  -Polycom
  -Cisco
  -Linksys
  -Patton
  -Zyxel
  -Snom
  -Sangoma
  -Audiocodes

*Telecommunications/Broadband
  -xDSL deployments
  -WiMAX
  -GSM/WCDMA
  -WiFi

*Structured cabling
  -Home/office cabling
  -Phone & Data

*Computer networking
  -Mikrotik hardware
  -WAN/LAN solutions

*Wireless solutions
  -Motel/Hotel hotspot deployments
  -Outdoor wireless deployments, both small and large scale
  -Temporary wireless deployments
   
*CCTV solutions
  -Analogue and IP

I'm an #avgeek who loves to travel the world (preferably in seat 1A) and stay in nice hotels.


+My views do no represent my employer. I'm sure they'll be happy to give their own if you ask them.


You can contact me here or by email at stevenbiddle@gmail.com

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