SYDNEY to WELLINGTON (SYD-WLG) on Qantas 737-400 in business class
Many hours later it was time to head for the gate to board the return flight. While I was walking to the gate I saw some airline staff walk into the airside part of the terminal through a back door, setting off alarms as they did so. I was thankful I was in Australia and not USA as the alarms were just switched off after a couple of minutes instead of triggering a terminal dump.
The airbridge at the end of the pier had a modest queue by the time I arrived, and with no aircon on a hot summer's day I glad to soon board (still hot in the aircraft) and then take my seat where I could switch the air nozzle on to cool down. I've gotten used to not having air vents on aircraft flying international routes that it was particularly pleasant to have them today.
We were a little late in pushing back, and then had the usual long taxi to the far end of the furthest runway.
The flight back was fairly full in business class, but once again I had an empty seat adjacent. The family taking up the first row took all the Salmon meals leaving everyone else to choose between chicken and, well, that is all
Tired as I was I couldn't fall asleep so instead watched some shows on the DVD player and had some several glasses of wine. We had moderate turbulence most of the flight so I had to be careful.
On daytime flights into Wellington there are great views of the upper South Island. On clear nights the view is not quite as good by at least you can make out the various towns and cities. Tonight we had no view until we broke through some cloud on a bumpy descent a couple of minutes before touchdown.
With our late departure we were the third of three late night arrivals into Wellington. Fearing slow queues at immigration and customs I raced off the airbridge and downstairs. There was a long queue at manual immigration and a fairly short one at smartgate. Unfortunately, however, there seemed to be a problem with at least one of the smartgate machines and everyone who tried using it was directed to the nearest immigration desk which was being quarantined from the main queue. As I walked up I weighed the odds - a for sure long wait in the main queue, or a chance of getting through smartgate very fast with fallback of the reserved desk. I opted for smartgate and, for the first time in either Australia or NZ since these have been introduced I failed to clear and had to use the reserved desk. It was still at least 15 minutes faster than the main queue.
No checked bags so straight to customs queue. I opted for the express line even though smartgate had failed for me and wasn't questioned about it. A minute later I was out landside, some 21 hours after leaving Wellington's landside.
WELLINGTON to AUCKLAND (WLG-AKL) on Air New Zealand 737-300 in space+ seat
A few more days later, and after getting some last minute chores done I was back at the airport for another quick trans-Tasman trip. This time I was routing via Auckland due to the removal of business class on A320 late last year. Rather annoying.
Anyway, it meant I could not use my e-pass RFID chip and had to check in. Since my ticket isn't that simple and the kiosks available for international flights to Australia have had troubles with similar itineraries I've taken in the past I went to the international check in desk. At Wellington all Air NZ international flights are to Australia, and in an effort to encourage self check in, Air NZ has just 2 check in desks - with a priority line for business (hah!), star alliance gold and koru club. At this hour of day there is only one desk manned as the next international departure is in several hours.
The person at that desk was taking an age to deal with a couple who were at the desk when I arrived. After about 15 minutes I was invited to use the disruptions desk and check in there. There is no passport & FF card swipe facility at this desk so check in takes a little longer than normal.
Once that was taken care of I headed to the lounge for a drink or two before departure, and to deal with some last minute work. The lounge was quiet - a benefit of travelling at this time of year.
Boarding, departure and the flight were unremarkable. We had some nice views of the countryside along the way. I zoned out watching the land go by beneath (phew!).
AUCKLAND to SYDNEY (AKL-SYD) on Air New Zealand 777-200ER in business class
It was a pleasant enough day to walk, perhaps a bit warm and steamy, and besides which I didn't have a lot of time to waste waiting for the next free inter-terminal bus (I'd have preferred a longer connection for comfort but the website didn't give that as an option). Over at international terminal I walked past all the check in desks and just inside the entrance of the Air NZ premium lobby to the lift for special immigration. I half expected to be stopped to check I was entitled to use this service (available for Air NZ business class, premium economy, star alliance gold and koru passengers only) but no one said a thing. Immigration was empty but security was a bit slow with some infrequent passengers who hadn't a clue what to do blocking both WTMD lines.
Since I looked well travelled I got picked on for the pat down and explosives check. Upstairs in the lounge I had enough time to check some messages and grab a coffee. On the way past the drinks fridge I noticed the sparkling wine had been changed to Te Hana.
Boarding call at the nearest gate on time. The usual pre-departure drink (bubbles, juice or water), menu, newspaper. I started watching a movie thanks to gate to gate IFE. We had a full flight, so we pushed back slightly late. As usual the safety video was played once we were backed out on the apron. Unlike the A320 safety video, the 777 one still had the gay kiss off scene in it. As the video played and we failed to move off I thought there might be a problem. Sure enough a few minutes after the video ended the captain announced a fault light was lit and we'd need to return to gate to get it investigated.
We were pushed back far enough that the aircraft had to taxi a loop to position back at the gate. While it did so I thought about how long my next transit is and what time might my go/no go decision be needed by.
There was a delay in getting the airbridge reattached to the aircraft and several engineers came onboard. In the meantime cabin crew were great and provided the usual post-departure hot towel, casava crisps and drinks, and collected orders for mains of our meal.
A couple opposite me decided they wanted to leave the flight and they were disembarked.
Engineers came and went. My movie rolled on, and the drinks flowed.
Apologies in advance if the next bit doesn't post today. This connection is so slow I feel like someone is converting my typing into a telegram to send to the server where someone else retypes it to load.
If that wasn't bad enough, the computer has rebooted itself 4 times so far.
There are days when relying on a lounge computer & connection doesn't quite work out. This is one of those days.
Back to the flight, or rather the f-light (for faulty light) which saw us grounded, hopefully only temporarily.
Eventually there was another announcement that the fault was with the light, not whatever it was an indicator for, so we wouldn't need to be put on another aircraft or later flights. That avoided a potentially messy trip in vain and/or misconnect for me.
The engineers left the aircraft and we had a short further delay while fuel tanks were topped up. We pushed back a second time close to 2 hours late when I was already one movie and several drinks down.
No replay of the safety video, and a fast taxi out to the runway. The flight itself was uneventful. The meal and more drinks were served at top of climb. Since the service had a head start on the ground, the meal was finished up fairly early into the flight whereas normally I finish up at top of descent. I watched some movies and shows. I enjoyed sampling the wines.
We landed rather late (naturally) and had a long taxi to our gate.
Air New Zealand
Business Class menu
New Zealand to Australia
Vanilla poached salmon
with cherry tomato, endive salad and dill creme fraiche
Lamb navarin and seared cutlet
with truffled potatoes and crushed minted peas
of three cup chicken with egg fried rice, steamed kai lan, carrot and black mushrooms
Roast beef salad
with turmeric scented cous cous and eggplant hummus
of black Doris plum ice cream and cream ice cream with chocolate almond wafer
Fine New Zealand cheese and preserved fruit
Freshly brewed or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea and hot chocolate
Our wine list showcases some of the best wine New Zealand has to offer – from a country that celebrates its zealous passion for producing top quality wines.
The premium wine selection onboard this flight has been chosen by our wine consultants : John Belsham of Foxes Island Wines, Kate Radbund of CJ Pask Winery and Jim Harre, nationally recognised wine judge. The fine wines served on this flight have been chosen to complement today’s menu style. Your crew will be happy to discuss the selection and help you choose wines to accompany your meal.
Glenfiddich Malt Whisky
Chivas Regal Blended Whisky
Jack Daniel’s Black Label
42 Below Vodka
Ron Bacardi Superior
Port and Liqueurs
Baileys Irish Cream
A selection of beer featuring Steinlager Pure, Speight's Gold, Heineken and low alcohol lager.
Mineral water, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, cola, lemonade, L&P (sparkling lemon drink), tonic water, ginger ale, diet cola and diet lemonade.
You had the pleasure of observing a Glory, possibly enhanced by a Heiligenschein. I always sit on the side opposite to the sun in the hope of seeing one. Certain routes are very good for them - I love flying MEL-HBA for this reason! ...
Originally Posted by Kiwi Flyer
Thanks falconea. Glory it is. ...
Saw one of those last year from Auckland to Los Angeles.
SYDNEY to WELLINGTON (SYD-WLG) on Air New Zealand A320-200 in space- seat, works deluxe "class"
For those who don't follow the Air NZ forum, or haven't flown shorthaul international on Air NZ in the past few months, the experience has completely changed from "the good old days". Air NZ has a seats to suit product offering replacing the choices of economy and business class with 4 options - seat only, seat plus bag, works and works deluxe. The system is a mess. If you want a cry then take a look at the many and long threads on the NZ forum.
I'm not going to rehash that here, it only upsets me too much. What I will do is relate my experiences on this particular flight. I've had several trans-Tasman flights since seats to suit was launched and this one is a good representation.
Originally I'd booked seat only (seat plus bag is a waste for me given how long it has been since I've checked any bags). The extra benefits for the higher products didn't seem worth the extra $ to pay, particularly as you get most of them with star alliance gold status. Then came a bonus offer to try and reduce the gnashing from elites about how poor the new product is. This required booking to be in works and made a borderline case for paying the upgrade. Add in a special upgrade for disaffected elites and I was in works deluxe.
Added up it was still much less than the fare I would have paid for business class had it been available. But then works deluxe is a far inferior offering.
This may be a bit cryptic, so a quick summary of the structure is in order.
Seat only = seat, no checked luggage, no movies, tea/coffee/water only but can buy on board for food/drinks/movies (credit card only).
Seat plus bag = add a checked bag.
Works = add a movie, food & drink and access to space+ (A320 only).
Works deluxe = add a blocked middle seat and take away space+.
If you're thinking this is all a bit LCC and rather contrary to the "nothing to hide" campaign which was promoted so heavily only a few months ago, you'd get no disagreement from me.
The flight was fairly full. Due to the heat in the airbridge the boarding call was made late in the lounge so we'd have a more pleasant boarding experience. Nice idea except for those seated in the works deluxe area where there is zero overhead bin space (first few rows in the bins on the ABC side are taken up with emergency equipment, supplies and sometimes crew bags although this is largely gone as an issue now) and you need to board early to stow any bag overhead within cooee of your seat. DEF side has a bit more space, although today a whole bin was taken up with newspapers.
So, even though I was the only passenger in works deluxe if I wanted to stow my bag in the overhead bin it would have ended back around row 5 and made for a difficult exit on arrival. Luckily my carry on was very small and fit under the seat in front. Thanks to empty middle seat I didn't even need to reduce my own legroom.
The works deluxe seats are fairly cramped with just 30" legroom, which for me means sore knees if the passenger in front reclines. Luckily today there was no one in the first row, which now seems to be the last seats to be allocated by check in (as opposed to self-selected by flyers) due to the annoyances of this row - no bulkhead = more legroom, but no overhead bin, passengers boarding tread on your feet, passengers waiting to use the bathroom stand right in front of you, intrusion of the slide in seat 1A, lack of gate to gate IFE since PTVs must be stowed, reduced width due to trays and PTVs in the armrests.
I was offered a newspaper. Apparently I was supposed to also be offered a noise cancelling headset but someone forgot (until much later in the flight).
We pushed back on time. Safety video had the edited kiss off.
As usual we had a long taxi to the far end of the far runway. Once airborne and at top of our climb there was a long announcement about how drinks and meal service will work. Despite being the only one in works deluxe, when the drinks trolley came by I was initially declined a non-free drink (because they forgot which product I'd bought and didn't think to check the print out). It was soon sorted out and they partially made up for it by proferring a couple of bottles to get me started.
The drinks run took an age and we were over halfway through the flight with no sign of any food (other than the meals taken to the pilots). About 2 hours in (flight time is 2 hours 45 today) works deluxe and works passengers finally get offered some food. Choice today is chicken cordon bleu or beef casserole, with a small roll and a chocolate cake. About 5 passengers on the nearly full flight get this paid-for meal. Hardly a revenue success then. After that run through the cabin there is another drinks round and 2 more bottles. Only then, virtually at top of descent, are the rest of passengers allowed to use buy on board as it is switched on. I bet they didn't serve more than a dozen passengers before it was time to clear up for landing.
Anyway, the meal was rather rushed. We circled around to land towards the north. I noticed we'd beaten the other late night Australia flights to land, and thus should have a quick run through immigration and customs. So it proved - I was landside within 5 minutes of the airbridge opening (there was a bit of a delay for this since we'd arrived too early).
All in all, one of the worst Air NZ flights I have taken. I hope things turn around soon on the shorthaul routes or I'll be taking even more flights on the competition.