Air New Zealand longhaul to the UK/Europe
Air New Zealand and Airport Experiences
My first longhaul travel experience was flying with Air New Zealand in Economy class and I feel they offer a pretty good overall service. The airline food and beverage services were quite adequate - there were 2 choices for each meal usually one hot and one cold option and the meals were actually quite substantial and filling (pictures below of breakfast, lunch and dinner). The in-flight entertainment was really comprehensive which can keep you occupied for quite some time. It was a very long flight with just a 3 hour stopover in Hong Kong (2 hour stopover in Los Angeles on the way home), if you cannot sleep onboard meaning you arrive quite tired. So I would definitely recommend 1 night stopover in each direction if you wanted to arrive refreshed and have the time to spare.
Auckland Airport Premium check-in counter saves a lot of time waiting in queues and then there is a lift upstairs to a separate Premium Economy/Business immigration pre-screening facility and then you arrive in the duty free lounge.
We were also lucky enough to get a tour through the Air New Zealand Koru/transit lounge in Auckland which I think is a great facility, it was just a pity we didn’t have time to stay and enjoy it for a while. If you are not flying Air New Zealand you can still use this lounge by purchasing a day pass – 4 hours NZD$55 per person or 8 hours NZD$85.00 per person, which I feel would definitely make the transit more pleasant if a long stop. They have a shower facility, business centre for photocopying etc, free wi-fi, buffet meals and unlimited drinks (non-alcoholic and alcoholic) - this area is huge, so lots of separate quiet areas to relax and unwind while transiting in Auckland.
Flight from Auckland to London (via Hong Kong) - Economy class route operated by a Boeing 777-200 with seating configuration of 3 3 3 and remote access in-flight entertainment.
Hong Kong Airport transit area is quite large and there are lots of options for duty free shopping. Cigarettes are really cheap here – HKD$150.00 for 10 packs (approx NZD$25.00).
We were all quite surprised at the lack of security when we got to London Heathrow Airport. There were only 2 duty free shops and no security if nothing to declare, no-one even questioned you, your hand luggage etc doesn’t even get scanned and you just walk out of the Airport. Although departing London Heathrow Airport was a completely different story… quite a few of us got body scanned here, frisked and our hand luggage swabbed, upon both our departures to Rome and also Los Angeles.
Our flights home were not confirmed until we arrived at London Heathrow Airport. The Air New Zealand Duty Manager (Will) was really great and he sorted out one of the girls in our group who lost her passport and she ended up flying home through Hong Kong without a passport (the rest of us flew through Los Angeles). She had to report it stolen to the Police in London and she did have a copy of her passport and birth certificate so I guess this did help, but didn’t know this was possible.
Flight from London to Auckland (via Los Angeles) - Economy class route operated by the new Boeing 777-300 with seating configuration of 3 4 3 and touch screen in-flight entertainment. These refitted aircraft were really nice and had new black interior. For a certain portion of the flight (after meal services etc) you can order drinks and snacks from your touch screen whenever you like, which is very convenient and delivered to your seat in a very timely manner so you can just sit back and relax.
We were also surprised at the lack of security in Los Angeles – I think there is a lot of hype for nothing, as its really not that bad. Yes we did have to do our fingerprints and they scanned our eyes upon arrival even for transit (as our luggage was not checked all the way through we had to clear immigration, proceed through customs and recheck our luggage to onward flight), but apart from this we found it quite relaxed. We were never asked to produce our ESTA’s.
Arriving into Auckland Airport is quite a pleasurable experience compared to some of the Airports we have seen along the way which are quite dirty, no wonder we have won awards.