ok, I’ve finally got time to sit down and write about the next part of my trip. By the way, I did fly around the world but it wasn’t a RTW ticket. If you book a ticket from Europe to New Zealand on Air New Zealand, you have the option of a free stopover in LA (this was always the case), or a free stopover in Hong Kong or Singapore (new). The FRA-HKG and FRA-Singapore flights are done by Lufthansa (as you may have guessed by my above post), and in HKG you take an AirNZ plane to AKL (in Singapore I think its a Singapore Airlines flight to AKL). I just asked for a stopover in HKG on the way, and in LAX on the way back. Anyway, on with the report...
after 4 days in Hong Kong (wow!) it was time for my next flight. I wanted to have a look around the new airport so I left Kowloon around 11am, even though my flight wasn’t until 7:25pm or so. I got there around noon.
* January 13th 2001, HKG-AKL on NZ70, Boeing 767-300ER *
checkin didn't open until around 3 1/2 hours before the flight, so looked around Chep Lap Kok, wrote postcards, got ripped off in one of the airport restaurants etc.. I was planning to be the first in line at chekin, but it didn't open where I thought it would and by the time I got there there were already quite a few people in line (this was still 3 hours before the flight!). I am an Air New Zealand silver frequent flyer, and had requested an upgrade from economy to business using my complementary upgrade voucher, meaning if there was space in business (there was, I checked on the internet) the upgrade would be preconfirmed 24 hours before the flight. Anyway, there was no problem - I just went up to the business class counter, handed over my ticket, passport and voucher, and was handed a boarding pass for seat 1A. Off I headed to the lounge. The lounge indicated by the checkin agent was the United Red Carpet lounge, but when I got there the Thai lounge was right next to it and I decided to go there instead. For some reason I was under the impression that the Thai lounges are better than United, is this true? Anyway, it was pretty good, all the usual drinks and snacks. I got myself a Baileys on the rocks, a plate of sandwiches and sat down at the computer to write off some emails to my friends (most of them along the lines of "hello, haha, I'm in a biz class lounge in Hong Kong about to take a biz class flight to New Zealand and you are all at work/in school haha"
). Anyway, around 7:00 we were called for boarding. I made my way to the gate, presented my boarding pass to the lady doing the biz-class boarding (that is one more thing I love about biz class, they don't just ask you to board first, they actually have a dedicated line for you so you can board whenever without having to wait in the queue), and was off to the plane. I have been a fan of Air New Zealand ever since I started flying frequently (but this trip report will still be objective), and they really are quite good - if you have the chance, give them a try. Anyway I was really looking forward to the flight. I sat down at my seat (biz class was about 3/4 full) and pretty quickly a steward came up and offered me some champaign. After about half an hour (an a few more glasses of champers
) everyone was on, the doors closed and we pushed back. For the biz class section there seemed to be three crew members - one in the galley and two serving, plus the in-flight service director from time to time. The two who were serving were oriental (a guy and girl) and really nice. The guy came around after takeoff introducing himself, and asked what I would like to drink before the meal (and he knew my name). I probably took a Baileys, I'm afraid I've forgotten some of the details of these first few flights. After the steward had left, the in-flight service director also came around introducing himself, and wishing us a pleasant flight. I have also forgotten what the meal was, so I'll just describe AirNZ's business class dinner service in general terms. As I've mentioned, after takeoff (sometimes before) a crew member will come around introducing him/herself and taking orders for drinks, and either then (or maybe its before that, I'm not sure) you will be presented with a menu and wine list. When the appetisers are served, a table cloth is draped on you tray table and a tray with the appetiser, cutlery, nice little tumblers of salt and pepper, butter, bread plate etc. is presented. During the appetiser, the crew come round with 'the bakery' as they call it, a basket with garlic bread, olive bread and some other breads. If you choose olive bread, the crew also fill a little dish with olive oil for you to dip it in. All the dishes are big and have a nice, solid feel to them. After the appetiser, the main course (there are usually 3 choices) is brought to you (individually, not on trolleys), followed by desert. With every course wine is offered (and after the main course the crew come around again topping up peoples' glasses). The desert is served from a desert trolley (meaning you can see all the different options and point at the one you want) and is accompanied by a desert wine - let me just say here that the thing I love most about biz class is the food and wine, not PTVs, not space etc. so I'm sorry if I'm rambling on here
. The desert wine is always superb, and usually I just continue drinking it all through the flight. After desert a cheese board is offered, (I think there are usually around 5 different cheeses), and again you point at the cheeses you want and they cut a slice off and put it on a plate with some grapes, and port and red wine are then also offered. After all that the crew serve tea and coffee, or for people like me, digestifs and wine. I am sorry that I can't remember exactly what I had. Anyway, the rest of the flight was nice, we flew over the Philippines, Indonesia (I think), then joined the north coast of Australia and finally flew across the Tasmin into Auckland. The movies were a bit disappointing, but I found one I liked and spent the rest of the time looking out the window (it was a clear, moonlit night and I could see a lot of what we were flying over) and drinking wine. The crew came around throughout the night topping off people's water glasses, or in my case, my wine glass (I think they had recognised me as an Air New Zealand silver frequent drinker
) so I had a nice time. Oh and by the way, I'm not an alcoholic or anything, just Welsh
. Anyway, about 1 1/2 hours before landing (somewhere over the Tasmin) the lights started to come on, people stated putting their window shades up (it was bright and sunny outside) and the in-flight service director came on the intercom wishing us all a good morning, hoped we could get some sleep etc. etc. and the breakfast service was started. Again, I'm afraid I've forgotten exactly what was offered for breakfast, so I'll just sum up the service in general terms. First, the crew come around with warm towels. Then, the trolley comes around (when I say trolley I don't mean one of those tall airline things, I mean the desert-trolley-like one that is open and has two shelves, so you can see everything that's on it) with different kinds of juice, tea/coffee and sometimes these fruit-shake type things they call smoothies. After that, table clothes go onto your tray tables, the tray with cutlery/butter etc. is presented and a continental selection is offered. It starts with a bowl of tropical fruit (which I personally don't like), then yogurt, cereal, and different types of bread are offered (croissants, toast and some others that I've never tried). After that, if you are still hungry, you can choose what they call a "hot option", basically a meal. I chose some kind of noodle dish, I'm pretty sure the other options were scrambled eggs and french toast. After that, breakfast was over and everything was cleared away. I spent the rest of the flight filling out my arrival documentation and trying to sober up, because I was being met at the airport by my aunt. The landing was smooth and my bags turned up pretty quickly.
All in all I enjoyed the flight, the food was good, the seats are very comfortable and they crew were very friendly without being too "matey". There were some things, however, that I didn't like:
- as I said, the crew came around throughout the night with drinks, but not all that frequently, and I had to get up and go to the galley a few times to have my glass refilled. I know that most people were sleeping and therefore didn't need their glasses topped up all that often, and I bet all the AirNZ fans are saying "so what you had to get up you lazy bastard" (
) but I would have preferred it if someone had kept an eye on my glass - I've heard they do this on Singapore and a few others.
- the food was good, but the main course portion was a little small. I would love to see AirNZ do the same as Ansett and have an in-flight chef
- I didn't like the selection of movies, and AirNZ's J class PTV system is not as good as even SQ's economy one - there are 8 movie/show channels and you can forget pausing/rewinding etc. AirNZ is upgrading their PTV systems in a few months, does anyone know if they are going to improve the selection?
But these are tiny complaints and otherwise the flight was really good. I spent two days in New Zealand (I was basically just there to visit my aunt, see my cousin and have some of the amazing NZ wine that is so expensive here in Europe, also because you can't combine HKG and NAN (the two places I really wanted to go) on Air NZ without flying via Auckland). I'll post the next leg of my trip, AKL-NAN in economy soon. Hope you liked the report