Flight test: Auckland to Perth

Impeccable. Friendly, approachable and prompt, as per Air New Zealand standard.


THE ROUTE Auckland to Perth.

THE PLANE Boeing 777-200, soon to be replaced by the airline's new Boeing 787-9.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME Air New Zealand Airpoints.

UP THE BACK OR AT THE POINTY END? Seat 37H, down the back with the riff-raff (including the Central Pulse and the Western Force teams). Return fares to Perth were $1100.

TIME IN THE AIR Seven hours and 40 minutes normally, but we arrived half-an-hour ahead of schedule. Any time we gained in the air was lost at Perth Airport's archaic baggage claim and customs service, as renovation work continues.

THE SEAT STUFF Economy configuration is 3-3-3 and was almost full. I'd gone on to SeatGuru.com to scope out the best seat in economy, so have ample legroom. Officially the seat pitch is 86 centimetres.

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE It's a "The Works" fare, so 23kg checked baggage and 7kg carry-on.

COMFORT FACTOR The 777-200 on the Perth route is set to be the first of Air New Zealand's old planes to be replaced with the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and it can't come soon enough. Despite the legroom, the seat cushion is so thin I can feel the framing beneath even with an extra pillow under me. I squirm and shuffle throughout the flight.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Air New Zealand's KiaOra in-flight entertainment selection is faultless even if it's on a small 8.4-inch screen. The Works fare includes the latest released movies, but I spend a good chunk of the flight compiling a massive music playlist and laughing along to Portlandia and Family Guy. Even the sub-par, crackly headphones and occasional frame freezes don't get me down.

THE SERVICE Impeccable. Friendly, approachable and prompt, as per Air New Zealand standard.

FEEDING TIME The chicken (masala) or the beef (casserole)? Our late lunch came with pumpkin and chickpea salad, cheese, crackers and a pear, and coconut cake as dry as our destination.

Air New Zealand, like all others in the sky I've sampled, can't crack the stale-bread-roll curse.

An hour out from landing in Perth we were given scones and a fruit bowl.

ONE MORE THING Instead of joining the well-heeled hordes in Air New Zealand's Koru Lounge pre-departure, I sampled Auckland International Airport's premier Emperor lounge, which had abundant food, drinks and couches, and barely another soul.

THE VERDICT Other passengers in cattle class may have enviously looked over my shoulder at the latest blockbusters or a whiff of my meal, but these extras are worth it on an almost eight-hour flight. This one flew by.

FREQUENCY Air New Zealand flies Auckland to Perth daily.

There are extra flights during summer, which include Christchurch to Perth.

Sunday Star Times