Flight Test: Air New Zealand business premier

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THE ROUTE Auckland to Perth direct

THE PLANE Boeing 777-200 


TIME IN THE AIR 7 hours, 40 minutes

THE SEAT STUFF The 22 inch (56 centimetre) wide leather armchair comes with a separate ottoman footrest that doubles as a visitor's seat. It converts to a 6 foot 6 inches (198cm) lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress, duvet and large cotton pillow however I was not made aware of this function so just used the reclined seat option.

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE Three priority checked bags up to 23 kilograms each and two carry on bags up to 7kg each. My return flight was an economy seat with no checked baggage so I just had one carry-on bag.

COMFORT FACTOR What struck me about flying business class was the privacy offered by the seat dividers. It gives the impression there are very few passengers on the aircraft. The large leather seats and the seatbelt's leather cushioning offer extra comfort, as does the ottoman - although I'm 6 foot 3 inches (193cm) and my feet were pushed up against the end of the ottoman, which wasn't ideal. There were also far too many large pillows lying around and at one stage I somehow ended up with four of them.

THE SERVICE To be frank the service was below my expectations - especially considering the fare was valued upwards of $1500. I was not shown how to use any of the seat or fold out table functions. My empty cups and unwanted newspapers were not cleared away so I placed them on a vacant seat where they sat for much of the flight. I ordered shrimp linguine for my main but was brought beef short rib and when it came to getting a drinks top up I felt like I had to work hard to get the flight crews' attention.

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FEEDING TIME The entire flight was like one big banquet. Shortly after take off I was given a plate of olives and gherkins. That was followed by prosciutto with preserved figs, bocconcini and green olive salsa - absolutely delicious. Then came an array of freshly baked breads and olive oil. For the main I ordered the garlic and chili prawns on creamed basil linguine with courgettes, pesto and cherry tomatoes but instead was brought beef short rib, swede and parsnip mash with roasted shallots and beetroot horseradish salsa.

ONE MORE THING It was the small things which made business class comfortable - like having your own overhead locker, stocks of free chocolate, magazines and newspapers, champagne before take off and those mini hot towels.

THE VERDICT Flying to Perth was a unique experience however at more than $1500 one way it's not something I would fork out for in a hurry.

FREQUENCY Air New Zealand flies six direct business class flight to Perth each week on the 777-200. From October 15 Air New Zealand will schedule its new Dreamliner 787-9 on the Perth service.

 - Stuff


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