Air New Zealand
As our National Carrier, it’s probably quite obvious to you that we’ve used Air New Zealand for all of our domestic travel, and a good deal of our international travel over the years.
But judging by the many awards that the airline has won, it’s not just a matter of convenience because we live in New Zealand: the airline really is one of the best in the world!
With a very impressive 50+ awards won over the past 9 years alone, it’s no wonder that clients feel proud to have Air New Zealand represent our country, and for many Kiwis, there’s no other choice when it comes to airlines for international travel.
Air New Zealand operate domestic flights within New Zealand and international flights to Australia, the Pacific, Asia, North America, South America and UK. What’s more, you can connect to a huge range of destinations worldwide through their network of partner airlines.
So, how did they stack up?
Firstly, we flew from our hometown of Nelson to Auckland: a domestic flight. This was uneventful and demonstrated the service and reliability we’ve come to expect from Air New Zealand.
The flight left on time, the staff were super friendly and the
re was water served, along with tea and coffee, and a cute little cookie. A nice touch but by world standards, not necessary as the flight was only 1 hour. Full points, Air New Zealand.
THE STRATA LOUNGE
One of the perks of going through Jeremy at World Travellers was that we got to spend our waiting time at Auckland Airport in the Strata Lounge using a complimentary pass supplied by Jeremy. To be honest, if it had been left up to me, I wouldn’t have bothered with this, but it certainly was a touch of class and luxury that we thoroughly enjoyed.
The Strata Lounge is available to anyone travelling on 13 different airlines, at a cost of NZD$49 for 3 hours, and NZD$75 for up to 8 hours if you book within 24 hours of departure. However, there is a door price (NZD$55) if you just decide to go there once you arrive. So, what do they have at the Strata Lounge?
It’s more like what DON’T they have!
Fantastic, continuous food and drink with international cuisine and catering to every preference you could want. Drinks too are available, from juices and soft drinks through to wine, beer and spirits, and of course tea and coffee.
On the odd occasion when we’ve been upgraded to first class on a flight (read: free drinks!) it’s been early in the morning – not a drinking time for us anyway. But here we were at 7:00 pm, with a flight that didn’t leave until midnight – so (excuse the pun) the sky was the limit! It was hard to resist the tempting morsels on display, and we didn’t – although I personally did regret it a little when we boarded the flight and got served a full dinner service an hour after takeoff.
So, let’s take a look at Air New Zealand using our criteria of Price, Meals, Comfort and Safety/Reliability.
Yes, it has to be said that Air New Zealand is by no means the cheapest airline out there. Coming from New Zealand, we have a certain loyalty and pride in our National Carrier. As far as Air New Zealand goes, it would be safe to say that this was a case of the gains in the other criteria meaning that the price was not as much of an issue.
There are certainly cheaper airlines, and also dearer, so I would say that Air New Zealand comes in around about the middle. Our previous experiences also gave us a feeling of assurance that did not come with some of the airlines we had either never heard of, or never used.
Now this is one area that Air New Zealand is absolutely top of the list! We have never had a “bad” meal, and that’s all of us – including my parents who have certainly traveled far more than my hubby and I have.
True to expectations, they did not disappoint. Following round one of the drinks trolley, a full dinner (choice of beef or chicken) was served around 1 hour after take off, with all the trimmings. It consisted of meat and vegetables, a salad, bread roll, dessert, cheese and crackers and tea and coffee. This was way above expectations, and the only downfall was that it was very strange having a full meal at 1:00 am, and of course, we’d already had a fair gobble up at the Strata Lounge before departure. But that’s our fault.
Throughout the flight, there were drinks available, which is great because air travel tends to dehydrate you so it’s important to keep up your fluid intake. By fluid, I mean specifically water, fruit juice or soft drinks. Alcohol, while pleasant, is best reserved for mealtimes and wise to consume sparingly because of the dehydration effects. I know, not what you wanted to hear, after all, you are on holiday! But seriously, to keep alcohol consumption to a minimum will help with things like jet lag too. I made a point of sticking to water and soft drink, and suffered absolutely no dehydration effects – nor did I suffer from any jet lag!
A hearty breakfast was also served, although I think my stomach was wondering what was going on because it was served around 4 am – not a time I would normally be eating. However, it was very welcomed, and meant that as soon as we landed, we could attend to the business of making our way to our accommodation without having to worry about eating.
So as far as meals are concerned, Air New Zealand sits at the very top of the list! There’s nothing like fresh vegetables and fruit – something that is always available with their meals. On another note, this gives our overseas visitors a great introduction to the quality and irresistability of our local produce.
Now this came as a bit of a shock to me because we’ve traveled so often on Air New Zealand: the seats were really uncomfortable! Yes, it was a 10-hour flight and we’d traveled further in the past with no problems, so I can only say it must have been the aircraft itself.
The flight from Auckland to Singapore uses a Boeing B787-900, and not only did I find the seats uncomfortable, it was almost impossible to get out of my aisle seat when the person in front of me had their seat reclined! I mean, I’m pretty short, but even I had to clamber over the armrest using manoeuvres that a gymnast would have been proud of!
Now….. if only I could do that……..
There is no alternative other than to grab the top of the seat in front of you and leverage yourself out, hoping you don’t wake the person in front! Sadly, it’s not something that can be fixed so it’s just a case of “grin and bear it”. This is a very good reason to choose an aisle seat, because getting out from a window seat would’ve been almost impossible!
I did have a novel way of fixing the uncomfortable seat challenge though – you can read about it on my “what travel accessories?” page. In fact, there are a couple of things on that page that certainly made my trip more comfortable!
Air New Zealand is among the 20 safest airlines in the world, according to a new ranking. AirlineRatings editor-in-chief Geoffrey Thomas said the 20 carriers rated fairly similarly and can all be considered “outstanding”.
New Zealand’s national carrier came in at number two in AirlineRatings’ Airline Excellence Awards, announced in November 2019, coming second only to Singapore Airlines who took out the top spot. However, the fact is that this ended Air New Zealand’s five-year reign as Airline of the Year so ranking number 2 is nothing to be sniffed at.
Air New Zealand has been a leader in safety and flight operations for decades and is considered industry best practice.
Unlike a number of low-cost carriers, these 20 safest airlines have all passed the stringent International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) and have excellent safety records.
AirlineRatings bases it’s rankings on criteria which include audits by aviation authorities and governments, crash and serious incident records, profitability, innovative safety initiatives and fleet age.
So, I guess the facts speak for themselves, really. You can’t go far wrong with one of the recognised safest airlines in the world.
Reliability, I guess, is a personal thing, but I don’t think I have ever experienced a delay that wasn’t outside the airline’s control.
So using our criteria, Air New Zealand ticks all the boxes except for coming midway on price. Given their outstanding performance in other areas, a price that isn’t exactly cheap is a small price to pay to get all the other ducks in a line.