Air NewZealand


Air NewZealand went through a reinvention a couple of years ago, I suppose mostly recovering from trying to rescue Ansett Australia at the Australian Government's bidding.

And now with the advent of their 777s, things seem to be looking up for the Kiwi carrier. All they need to do now is figure out how to run a profitable business with non-empty 747s flying across the Tasman, and they can stop bleating about a merger with Qantas as being the only way to salvation.


The new Air NewZealand business class is fantastic, no other way to describe it. The herring bone layout was "borrowed" from Virgin Atlantic Upper Class, no doubt to Richard Branson's annoyance. Although couples don't like it as they can't sit together, hand in hand, or arm in arm, as they can do on regular seating. And the planes have mood lighting, and it is actually used properly too, so seems to work, for me at least.

The seating is 4 across, in a herring-bone lay out. Everyone is on the aisle, and half the passengers have a window seat. This does mean your feet point to the aisles - it can be a bit of a weird feeling before you get used to it. Rather than folding flat, the seat tips upside down and becomes a real, albeit rather firm, bed. With sheet, and light duvet. Very swish. Another advantage is that the seat can be in any position during take off or landing (apart from bed, that is), so no more forcing to be bolt upright as on some airlines (Qantas for example). Easily the best Biz seating I've flown in, and my choice whenever I can do it. Pity that AirNZ is the most expensive way of getting across the Pacific Ocean, but then there is probably a good reason why.

Catering is quite excellent, as long as the cabin crew don't mix up your order - which they seem to manage with me from time to time. And all those lovely New Zealand wines - the menu includes a lovely little booklet explaining all the New Zealand wines and wine growing regions. A nice little souvenir.

Video entertainment is video on demand, approx 15" flat screens which fold into the panel beside you. Video on demand is all singing and dancing, a lot more complex than the Singapore one, and reminds me of the Qantas one but done much better (probably the same back end). If they cut back on the graphics though, it would actually not be so sluggish. And navigating it is crazy - what's wrong with a simple menu system? So it's probably more form than function, but at least there is a choice of films and features when you want them. Thankfully the crew now longer abruptly switch the VoD system off about an hour out from destination, announcing that "you must watch the arrivals video". We now get an announcement saying when the arrival video is being played. I still object to the entire system being switched off 30 minutes out. Can't even listen to music! Why?

Summary: Just wonderful. The rather terse switching off of the VoD 30 mins prior to arrival seems bizarre.

Premium Economy

This is what is Business Class for routes within the South Pacific, so basically the big old luxury seat that tilts back a little. So AirNZs old business class. Across the Tasman it is called Premium Economy (A320s) and it just means you get a comfy seat, laptop power (A320s only), but Economy meals. Suits me, it's only 3 hours.

No video on demand, just the one main cabin channel on the overhead screens.

Within the South Pacific, this becomes Business Class. So you get nice food service, but otherwise all is the same.

Summary: It's ok, but difficult to sleep on longer flights due to uprightness of the seat.

Domestic Economy

Air NewZealand decided they didn't need a business class for domestic flights, so ripped out the biz seats from their 737s, and replaced the whole lot with a nice cramped 32inch pitch economy class. Sigh. As you can see from the photo, I don't fit awfully well.

Summary: Well, the flights are short, I suppose.

Last updated by Philip Smith on .