Air New Zealand's Premium Economy - Vancouver to Auckland
Reviewed by Mike Keenan
Boeing-77, photo by ANZ
My spouse and I wanted to visit New Zealand, but the problem was distance as we had to travel 9,700 miles or well over 15,000 km. Sealed for over half a day - that's 13.5 hours to be precise, inside the tight confines of an airplane! Yuk! We dreaded the thought.
However, we had a game plan. We have three grandchildren in Vancouver, so each part of our journey would include a Vancouver stop. Toronto to Vancouver was manageable at 5 hours on Air Canada. But after a weekend visit, the much longer Vancouver-Auckland flight was next.
Nevertheless, as the Southern Hemisphere natives like to intone, "no worries mate" - thanks to Air New Zealand's Premium Economy Spaceseat - an oxymoronic seat section located between Business and Economy, providing passengers with more space inside their Boeing 777- 300.
Air New Zealand won the "Airline of the Year" award by
for the third consecutive year from 2014-16 for passenger innovations, environmental commitment, record-breaking financial performance, operational safety and motivation of staff that makes this airline an industry trendsetter. The editorial team also awarded this airline Best Premium Economy Class and Best Economy Class.
The cabin features 50 Spaceseats on the 777-300ER, laid out in three sets of seat pairs, which stretch back seven rows (on the left hand side of the plane, seats A & B), eight rows (the right hand side of the plane, seats J and K) and ten rows (the middle pair, seats D & E).
We were attracted to not having to worry about middle seats, ours being a window and aisle combination with 42" seat pitch, the seat reclining into its own space which means that the person sitting in front of you can't recline into your personal space. Under each seat there was a small purple beanbag that short passengers could use as a footrest, and inner seats had retractable armrests designed for people traveling together.
All seats have the same plug setup as Business Premier: a universal plug providing 110v power, a USB charging socket for portable devices like phones and music players, and a video-in socket to watch movies from your iPhone, iPod or iPad on the in-flight entertainment screen.
Entertainment facilities include a 10.6" touch-screen, headphones, in-seat power and USB connections along with an amenity kit including the usual sleep aids. The food was terrific, accompanied by tasty New Zealand wines, and on-demand snacks and drinks that could be ordered in between meals from the personal touch screen entertainment system. New Zealand wine was featured, only port and champagne not Kiwi, and Premium Economy have their pick of the entire range.
Right from the beginning we were pleased. The safety video featuring All Blacks rugby players in a parody of Men in Black set a jovial mood, augmented afterwards by the open bar. Air New Zealand's safety videos demonstrate how to make the mundane task of safety instructions an entertaining vehicle.
Premium Economy is a relatively new concept as many airlines do not provide it, fearing that Business Class might downgrade. Premium Economy generally comes in at 30% more expensive than Economy but 70% cheaper than Business Class.
This was my first time in Premium Economy and I liked the extra leg room, greater recline than in economy, a complimentary bottle of water, leg rest, foot rest, in-seat power, blanket, pillow and the same amenity kit as in Business Class. Premium Economy passengers and Business class passengers share the same bathrooms and like Business Class the cabin is separated by a curtain from the other cabins.
Meal service quality borders on that of Business Class - the entrée and dessert served on a tray with a linen napkin and silverware with a choice of breads from a basket. Once the entrée is cleared, your main meal arrives.
Hot towels are thoughtfully handed out before every meal service, and there is no cheap plastic here - rather, it's china, silverware, glass and large mugs for tea and coffee. Staff are quick to recommend wine appropriate with your meal choice.
Air New Zealand provides a full menu of TV shows, movies, documentaries and music with secure noise-cancelling headphones.
The service was terrific - well-organized, gracious, and proficient. When we arrive, a crew chief personally went around to each passenger, shook hands and asked politely if they had experienced a good flight. He even offered some tips on where to go in the city and how to get there!
Travel Tip: Air New Zealand Gets My Vote! I highly recommend Air New Zealand's Premium economy for long haul flights. It's Business Class without a bed.
In 1940, the forerunner airline, Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) was incorporated.
In 1951 a flying boat service from Auckland via Fiji and the Cook Islands to Tahiti began, known as the "Coral Route". Samoa became part of this route in 1952. The 50th anniversary of the Coral Route was celebrated by Air
New Zealand on the 15th of December 2001.
In April 1965 TEAL was renamed Air New Zealand Limited.
New jets in 1965, the DC-8 meant that Air New Zealand could expand operations to North America and Asia, becoming a truly international airline.
In April 1989, the New Zealand Government privatisation of Air New Zealand was completed. During the 1980s and 1990s Air New Zealand continued to expand its international network, particularly to Asian cities like
Taipei, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka.
In March 1999 Air New Zealand became a full member of the Star Alliance group.
In 2010 Air New Zealand's first Boeing 777-300 aircraft touched down in Auckland on Christmas Eve morning, bringing the Kiwi designed Skycouch to New Zealand for the first time. The aircraft were brought in to service
the Auckland - Los Angeles - London route.
The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made
Mike Keenan is a travel columnist for Troy Media. He produces a travel podcast -
http://whattravelwriterssay.libsyn.com/ accessible on iTunes and Stitcher Radio and has been published in every major newspaper across Canada including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Toronto Sun. He has been published in National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City, Seniors Review and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. With hundreds of reviews, photos and helpful votes, he has earned Trip Advisor's "Top Contributor Badge" and is considered an "Expert" in both Hotels and Restaurant reviews. Mike posts photos to Pinterest where he has a following of five thousand viewers.
Air New Zealand Seat Guide - 777-300ER
Air New Zealand's innovative Premium Economy seating