I’ve booked my parents on it, my brother on it, dozens of clients on it, but now it was my turn. For years I have been wanting to fly Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to London and a trip to Ukraine finally gave me the chance.
Air New Zealand moved from Terminal 2 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. The impetus behind the move was the new Star Alliance Lounge, which is operated by Air New Zealand. A check-in agent cheerfully checked me in and offered three boarding passes, checking me as far as Beirut (via London and Cairo). I spent just a few moments in the lounge prior to departure: I had arrived late and security was a nightmare. I love the outdoor terrace in the lounge.
Boarding commenced on time at 3:40pm. All passengers boarded through Door 2 with business passengers directed left or right based on seat assignment and economy passengers right. The Air New Zealand 777-300 has a nice entryway with mood lighting and wood laminate floors.
The Los Angeles to London market is packed with competition, making Air New Zealand’s presence confusing on the surface. But it soon became clear why it maintains this Fifth Freedom Route: the majority of passengers in business class were transiting passengers from Auckland.
Air New Zealand 002
Los Angeles (LAX) – London (LHR)
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Depart: 04:10 PM
Arrive: 10:40 AM+1
Duration: 10hr, 30min
Seat: 5K (Business Class)
Air New Zealand Business Premier Seat
Air New Zealand has a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration on its 777-300 in BusinessPremier. The 44-seat cabin featured white seats which look remarkably clean after many years of service.
In lie-flat mode the bed reaches 6’4” and Air New Zealand does offer quality bedding including a mattress pad, blanket, and plush pillow. FAs will prepare your bed upon request. While these seats are not ideal for couples traveling together or those who wish to converse with their neighbor, they are comfortable. Cabin temperatures, sadly, were not comfortable. I awakened several times over the Atlantic very warm and had trouble falling alseep. There are no personal air nozzles.
I cannot help but to note that though the seats have been well-maintained, the cabin is showing wear. My tray table was damaged and the area around the IFE console was taped. The base of the seat also showed wear along the wall. The passenger’s seat in front of me malfunctioned prior to pushback and mechanics were brought onboard to make repairs. That delayed pushback by about 25 minutes but we still landed on time. Takeoff from the east runway at 4:50p.
Air New Zealand Amenity Kit
The Air New Zealand amenity kits doubles as an iPad case: I love functional cases like that. The kit itself was very basic with socks, ear plugs, a dental kit, eye mask, socks and Antipodes cremes.
Air New Zealand Lavatories
I appreciate the lavatories on Air New Zealand (at least the two in business). Not only are they clean with real towels, but are themed. One had “chandeliers” and the other had a humorous picture of an airline window across from a real window.
Air New Zealand IFE
I suppose you could say NZ’s in-flight-entertainment starts with the safety video. I’ve written about several past videos as well as the current edition which fuses humor with instruction.
Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora IFE system is comprehensive and features a collection of worldwide movies and television programs. The library also includes great music and a number of games. A touchscreen button called “Food & Drink” presumably provides a way to order food from your seat, but each time I tapped it a “The kitchen is closed” message would appear. Noice-cancelling headphones are provided.
No Wi-Fi is available onboard.
Air New Zealand Food & Drink
FAs offered a hot towel and choice of beverage shortly after I found my seat. Menus were already waiting at each seat.
One FA donned a chef uniform and took meal orders throughout the cabin shortly after takeoff. Meal service was overall very satisfactory, with one minor disappointment. Service began with mixed nuts and a drink. The mixed nut dish was tiny (see picture below) but a lot more food would come.
The duck appetizer was okay, though it is not my favorite bird. I always think of Donald Duck whenever I am eating duck…The bread served with it was tremendous – both garlic and olive bread.
All four main course options sounded delicious. Cod is one of my favorite fish types and I find fish is always more reliable than red meat, so I ordered it. It did not disappoint. The orzo and peas were perfect accompaniments and the pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top added a lot of flavor.
Next up was a small cheese course with fig relish and crackers.
Finally, a warm cherry tart with vanilla chocolate ice cream which tasted as good as it looked.
My minor disappointment: no espresso-based coffee drinks onboard. I had to settle for a hot chocolate, which nevertheless proved very satisfactory. The meal service was also slow – the entire process took about two hours, which is far to long for a 10-hour overnight flight.
While I was waiting for my bed to be prepared, I noticed the mid-flight snack station had already been set up in the business class galley. For those still hungry, a warmed bagel with bacon, spinach, and mustard was also available.
About 75 minuets prior to landing breakfast service began. I found breakfast even better than dinner. The fruit bowl with yogurt was nothing special, but I appreciated the fruit smoothie (though no refills were available). The highlight, though, was a delicious cheese omelet with some surprisingly good tomatillo salsa. I would rate this as one of the best omelets I have ever had on a plane.
Air New Zealand Service
I was surprised to learn that Air New Zealand has a dedicated Los Angeles-based crew for the London flight. Eduardo and Susan primarily took care of me and both did a fabulous job. Both were friendly and provided polished service. Gregg served as the onboard chef and was also very nice.
As we approached Heathrow I was treated to the clearest views I have ever experienced of central London:
We landed precisely on “shed-jewel” at 10:40a.
How I Booked
I booked this trip using Aeroplan. While I was on a longer trip, the LA to London flight is 55K miles in business class. No fuel surcharges are levied on Air New Zealand bookings. This flight is also available for 88K r/t using ANA (with fuel surcharges), 70K United one-way (no fuel surcharges), 55K Singapore KrisFlyer (with fuel surcharge), or 63K Avianca Lifemiles (no fuel surcharge).
Sometimes the problem with great expectations is that even when they are met, you feel disappointed they were not exceeded. I expected a good seat, great service, and tasty food. I got it. Yet, the disappointments added up: I noted the warm cabin showing its wear, the lack of espresso, and most importantly the lack of Wi-Fi (which NZ has announced intentions to remedy). Quite honestly, I’d take United or American over Air New Zealand just for the Wi-Fi. But don’t let my pickiness scare you away. Air New Zealand is great. That opinion has not changed.