Yes I was hoping for the first Air New Zealand all black 787, but if not getting that plane was my biggest disappointment then this was a great flight. Besides, you can't see the outside of the plane from the inside!
Carrier: Air New Zealand
Date: August 2016
Route: Auckland - Sydney
Flight #: NZ119
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 #ZK-NZ8
Configuration: C18 / W21 / Y263
Class: C - Business
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 6.0 out of 10 ✈
A bit of luck
The stars aligned on this. Being way down in the southern hemisphere because of a desire to fly the Thai A350, which never happened, I needed to make a return to Singapore to continue with the original plan. Luckily I found a SQ flight back for 30,000 points. Because my return to the states went through Europe I couldn't add it on to my existing ticket. But 30,000 points for an 8 hours flight is a great deal anyway. While doing some searches this AKL-SYD flight came up. Wow, I've been wanting to fly the NZ 787, here was my chance.
Except I was in Melbourne and the 787 left from Auckland, going to Sydney. Sydney sounds like fun to see. And the availability gods had; SQ 777 SYD-SIN, right date, right time, stars are looking good. You've read the MEL-ALK review so no surprise. My visit was to Auckland (it's recommended) instead of Melbourne and an overnight stay in Sydney, enough to have dinner on the Circular Quay. It's a plan. Melbourne can wait!
Value for Reward per redemption point:
Sky High: >.08
Better yet, the change to add the 787 wasn't anymore in points, just a origination change fee. As a premium member it was a deal. The fare for this route was $1,898. This works out to 6.3 cents. Fantastic. I had to call as UA doesn't book Singapore, otherwise it would be an easy online change.
While the stars aligned for the flights, I wasn't so fortunate with the weather. Having told it had been beautiful lately in Auckland (it's winter there), those 100+MPH tailwinds that whisked me here from Melbourne brought lots of rain with them. It rained the whole time in Auckland, but was still worth the trip as it's beautiful.
I arrived at the International Terminal via bus from downtown. No train service in Auckland. The domestic terminal is a shuttle bus ride away if you are connecting. And the rain had passed
Almost no agents, all kiosks.
Kiosk monitors much bigger than J monitors.
Slide your passport in and viola! Weigh your carry-on, no cheating allowed and off to immigration/security where there was no line.
Inside typical shops. Who buys all this stuff?
Time for some familiar faces.
And the ride to Sydney.
A 787 haven.
Except for the behemoth that dwarfs the airport.
Sorry, can't resist showing more of Air New Zealand's aircraft.
Stay at Gate
The international Air New Zealand lounge is a beautiful facility. Large by any standards, with multiple rooms of various decor, has a large selection of food, full bar with bartender and barista along with shower rooms off to the side.
A room almost like a sun porch where you could view the runway, great for plane watching.
My time in the lounge was between breakfast and lunch. They were breaking down a breakfast station. Probably some made to order items were available. Plenty of food was available as it seems those Kiwi's are a hungry lot.
The famous Anzac cookie, a chocolate version!
Lemon slices, so good.
Side bar for beverages.
Time to go. Off to the gate which was in a single level concourse. International passengers are confined to a glass enclosed exit to immigration. AKL is showing its age.
What were they thinking?
The 787's are configure 1x1x1 with the middle seat pointing to the right side making seat selection undeniable.
Solo travelers take an A seat, window left side. No staring at someone. Couples take the middle and right side window. You can chat across the aisle, and look at the person in front of you unless you snag row 1, where row 2 will stare at you.
The cabin has six rows. I chose the back seat and would definitely take it again.
Large 787 overhead bins. Row A seats get extra storage with bins on both sides. Too bad they weigh your carry-on.
Small 787 lavatory, not particular well stocked.
Triple 7 flight attendants get claustrophobic in the galley.
A peak in the cockpit. I asked if I could see it and was granted the wish, after the flight. Decided to pass and get to Sydney. A regrettable decision.
Three of 5 window settings. 1 clear, 3 medium and 5 dark, almost.
Just like home
✔︎Get me off this plane
If only the seat was as great as it looks.
Perspective on the ottoman size. Compared to some cubby holes it's open and roomy, just in the aisle.
Employed as storage, oops, not allowed on takeoff.
No champagne today.
Cabin/Seat Rating: 3 out of 10 ✈ While the seat was acceptable for a 3 hour flight, the rating is based on a long haul journey. The compartment is narrow with no room to place any items unless the tray is out. It becomes claustrophobic. And if you are a large individual this seat will be extremely cramped because you're confined by walls, not armrests. Finally the simple act of looking out the window is uncomfortable because you have to completely turn your head as far as it goes. Preferred are the "A" seats on a 787 as they offer more privacy since you aren't staring at someone the whole flight. I repeat, if only they were as great as they look.
Same as MEL-AKL
✔︎Printed, multiple cuisines
Printed, single cuisine
Verbal by flight attendant
Mid flight snacks
A nice presentation. Salt and pepper anyone?
Compliments to the Chef
✔︎ Fine dining with a miss or two
No rave reviews
Get me a meal from economy
I chose the prawns to start. These aren't prawns! There are missing the single defining word that separates them from shrimp. LARGE. Actually the prawn in Australia is a shrimp in the USA. Apologies. Maybe these are USA shrimp?
Fish is always a preparation risk on a plane, well most things are, but they did a masterful job. And the sauce was right. It was a sizeable portion and delicious.
Finished off with Tiramisu and very impressed with Air New Zealand catering. They aren't DO&CO, but pretty good.
Food and Beverage: Reward Flying Rating: 7 out of 10 ✈
Can I stay and watch some more?
Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
✔︎Glad I brought my tablet
The monitors didn't get bigger in the few days I was in Auckland.
Air Show, with destination information for various cities. This airshow was better than the 777 airshow as it provided more information. The screen is interactive as you can resize like on an iPhone.
Lots of content if one is not enjoying the view or the food.
Yes and Free
Yes and Purchase
IFE: Reward Flying Rating: 3 out of 10 ✈
Flight Attendants: 8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Made the flight special
Did their job
Did they board?
Another great crew. Every flight attendant (on both NZ flights) introduced themselves by name at the beginning of the flight. New Zealanders are a very friendly people.
A parting treat.
Aircraft: 9 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
Air New Zealand's 787 was a joy to ride in. Quite and comfortable my only complaint was the flight was too short.
Turn it up!
Notice the crew rest area above the front two middle row seats. Don't expect to use those luggage bins.
We approached Sydney from the east then made a turn back to the airport. Once out of a thin cloud cover the views of Sydney were spectacular.
Downtown Sydney and Opera House.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Making the turn.
Dinner will be down there.
I'll be back.
I thoroughly enjoyed my two flights on Air New Zealand and hope to revisit their skies some time soon.
Do you have any Air New Zealand experiences you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment.