antskip
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MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:57 am

Just returned from a return trip MEL-AKL. Over in a brand new NZ B772ER and back EK B345. Thought I would post a personal comparison of the experience (disclosures: I am a NZer and non-Arabic-speaking, also UK and AUS citizen):

MEL-AKL by NZ B772ER:
Lovely new plane. 90% full. FA's 90% male: efficient and straightforward in the traditional Kiwi manner. Cabin spacious and bright. Plain colour scheme: no traditional NZ/TEAL turquoise, but in rather an insipid light brown without pattern. No complimentary newspapers. Straight away I noticed a big problem: no footrests! As there was plenty of room for them, and considering well-publicised health issues involved, I was very surprised. As the NZ mag pointed out that all other classes in NZ had footrests, it looks suspiciously like a marketing decision rather than a TLC (tender loving care) issue. A very poor policy, NZ!
IFE: individual LCD's on the back of each seat, but no additonal cabin screens. LCD's are not touch-screen. IFE does not become available until 20 mins or so into the flight, and then becomes unavailable the same amount of time before landing - so on a Tasman flight quite a restriction on entertainment experience! There is a disconcerting lag between IFE command and LCD action.
Movie channels (chosen through remote control): categories: drama, family, festival, comedy, NZ, classic. 3-6 choices in each "channel", but some strange selections: e.g. 3 of 6 "classics" turn out to be Lord of the Rings, hardly what one would expect in a "classic" collection.
TV channels: documentary, travel, drama, Japanese, Comedy. Sports, Lifestyle/reading. "Sports" not really what most of us think of as "sport": i.e. world-class competitive sport competition.
Listening channels: easy listening, rock/pop, classical etc but only 6 choices in each.
Games: 6 choices, including blackjack and chess.
"Discovery" channels: mostly "Pilot" TV programmes.
"NZ Channels": 6 categories, 6 choices in each. "Lord of the Rings" again featured.
Language choices: English, German, French, Chinese, Japanese.
Telephones on back of remotes do not operate.

Extras: no hot towel at takeoff, but boiled sweets on descent to reduce ear pain. Restroom has manuka handwash, but that's it.
Food and drinks: Menu read over intercom. Meal basically a cardboard box with one sort of filled burger or another, plus a plastic cup of water. That's it. Serious suggestion: have a meal before you board, or even on Tasman trip you will be feeling tired and stressed on arrival! Drinks readily available, however little you have eaten (and you have eaten little).
General NZ econ impression: bland, no-nonsense, no-name, barebones brand cabin scheme, service, and catering. Food was like a minimal take-away. Lack of foot-rests a big minus. Seats comfortable, and cabin light and airy. FA's good.
AKL-MEL by EK 345:
100% full. Complimentary newspapers, both local and Dubai. FA's 90% female: many nationalities, focussed and smiling at the same time. Mauve/pink-ish patterned colour scheme that is neither too upfront nor too insipid, but not inspiring either.
Footrests: yes! Should be mandatory with every class of seat! NZ: take note!
IFE: individualized LCD screens both controlled by touch as well as by remote.
Telephones on back of remotes do operate, unlike NZ. One can also use wifi laptops to check and send -web-based e-mail. Seat LCD's augmented by bigger cabin ceiling LCD's every 6 or so rows, generally showing information on flight position and aircraft data (NZ's LCD's can show flight position as an option but it is more primitive and in lower resolution).
IFE not restricted to 20 minutes into flight at either end, but available at all times other than during a flight deck or FA announcement. In descent headsets are collected by crew, so sound is not available in last part of descent.
IFE is "ICE". Top of the class. Choices:
48 new releases, 30 "all-time greats", 25 Disney, 11 Arabic, 39 world cinema, 15 comedy, 10 "quest', 10 Sports (world-class competive sport!: football, rugby, sailing, motorracing, etc).
also tv drama, etc.
A huge range of music (my favourite past of ICE).
Languages: about double the number offered by NZ.
Food: written menu with choice of complete meals. Yes! Appetiser, side-dishes, main, desert, bread, biscuits, cheese. The works. A big feature of EK's.
service (no cardboard boxes or burgers here!).
Restroom offers many extras for a variety of needs, including eau-de-cologne and handcream.
General impression: Even in econ, EK offers a flying hotel experience, unlike the no-frills no-brand midtown experience of NZ econ. Having every public announcement except from the cockpit in Arabic before English can be experienced as being counter-communicative to non-Arabic speakers. By the time the English version of the safety announcement came on, I was not listening...
In comparison to the internationalist flying hotel EK feel, NZ has extremely small and bland meals, no footrests, but lovely new planes, and a solid, sort of downtown Wellington KFC atmosphere. EK is the Tasman benchmark still, but NZ's new 777's are very impressive, and certainly a big improvement on the old planes of recent times. NZ seems to have a deliberate policy, in the interests of promoting their other options further up the fuselage, of removing features from their econ experience that used to be default econ features. I don't think, with the likes of EK providing such a full-serviced default alternative to NZ, that such a policy will be wise in the long run, especially when EK start using bigger planes than the B345.
 
gardermoen
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 05, 2006 11:13 am

Interesting report and having flown this sector many times myself, on NZ, EK and QF, I have to agree with some of your points.
I don't know why there is a delay between IFE command and LCD action, I hope this is something they are working on. Can be very frustrating at times.
Meal portions on NZ are a joke, I got a wrap and a finger-sized muesli bar, and then they served tea and cofee in paper cups. What is this, a hospital cafeteria? QF on the other hand have the full tray with starter, warm main and dessert.
Seems odd why NZ have to switch off the IFE 20 mins before landing, I can understand collecting the head phones, but atleast keep the air show on( the 3D aircraft is really cool) instead. It would also be nice if they would introduce a cockpit-cam or an tail-cam like EK and SK.
Cabin crew wise, the NZ lot were really polite and friendly and not one grumpie old hag with attitude, like you occasionally find on QF.
Actually on my last QF AKL-MEL flight, I had to wonder what sort of a cleaning job the cleaners did, my row was full of rubbish. near my seat there were a few grapes, a plastic toy and crisps all over the place. And the aircraft was on the ground for a good hour atleast...
My usual choice in this order is: EK, NZ, QF
 
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 05, 2006 2:26 pm

Quoting Antskip (Thread starter):
IFE does not become available until 20 mins or so into the flight, and then becomes unavailable the same amount of time before landing - so on a Tasman flight quite a restriction on entertainment experience!

I found it heaps of time to watch the real long move I watched.

Quoting Antskip (Thread starter):
Telephones on back of remotes do not operate.

NZ plans on getting these activated sometime.
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aerorobnz
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 05, 2006 4:31 pm

Quoting Antskip (Thread starter):
. Straight away I noticed a big problem: no footrests!

That was decided upon based on direct customer feedback. Most of the customers wanted more space rather than footrests that are only suitable for the shorter passengers.
secondly, despite the fact your are flying on one of our longhaul aircraft with the IFE you get the tasman express service. Tasman Express is no frills, and that is the way it is marketed.

Emirates on the other hand are plugging themselves as a premium carrier transtasman, so they offer premium food service, we advertise no frills, so we offer no frills..

The aircraft only operates the route because it is repositioning for the evening flight to SFO, otherwise it would be a 320 like all the other flights.
Flown to 120 Airports in 44 Countries on 73 Operators. Visited 55 Countries and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 05, 2006 6:47 pm

Quoting AerorobNZ (Reply 3):
footrests that are only suitable for the shorter passengers.

I am 6 ft and always use the foot-rests.

Quote:
secondly, despite the fact your are flying on one of our longhaul aircraft with the IFE you get the tasman express service. Tasman Express is no frills, and that is the way it is marketed.

Trouble is the NZ website doesn't promote itself as a "no-frills airline", but rather offers 3 layers of econ tickets for one layer of its admitedly no-frills Tasman econ. Only one ticket level (Tasman Smart Saver) is cheaper than EK, but no cheaper than QF's "red e-deal" ticket. For all levels of its econ ticketing, QF provides more than no-frills, just as EK does. The next NZ ticket level (full-quality ticket but still no-frills servce) is the "Tasman Flexi Saver", which is directly equivalent to the lowest standard EK ticket and QF's "Super Saver". It of course receives the same no-frills NZ service just as the no-frills ticket does. NZ also has a fully flexible econ ticket "Tasman Flexi", the direct equivalent of QF's "Fully Flexible", and EK's fully flexible. The same NZ no-frills service of course also applies. I don't know how with this regime that NZ will be able to receive anything but the crumbs in competition on the Tasman against QF and EK . It will only get worse when NZ takes the B777 off the Tasman and goes back to the A320, whilst EK introduces more quality B777's and the A380 (probably with lots of no-frills tickets for full-service travel), and QF/Jetstar introduces the B787. That said, with the introduction of the B773 and maybe later the B787 NZ now only has to provide full-size meals for full-sized people to once again compete with the full-service Tasman airlines like they have for decades. However it sounds like NZ wants to compete with the likes of Jetstar and Virgin rather than EK and QF. Fair enough.
 Smile
 
airnewzealand
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Tue Feb 07, 2006 1:47 pm

Keep in mind...

NZ actually have the highest number of LOYAL passengers on the tasman runs followed by QF!

As a flight attendant for QF... even our options such as meal choices have suffered!! They have removed ALOT of things from the trays, and to the naked eye it is not seen but actually decreased food portions and tray size!!!

Emirates have done the same already!!! Flying them in September, and then again in November, the portions had decreased SIGNIFICANTLY!!! aswell as service standards!I had a very good talk with the crews on both flights, and interesting things were exchanged! EK is like QF, to the naked eye you cant see it, but i assure you, its changed!

QF will be pushing Jetstar accross the tasman soon, esp. out of MEL, so most likely your only full class option will be EK!!!

Cheers
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Tue Feb 07, 2006 4:33 pm

Quoting Airnewzealand (Reply 5):
Emirates have done the same already!!! Flying them in September, and then again in November, the portions had decreased SIGNIFICANTLY!!!

I have been flying EK MEL-AKL return for up to 6 times a year since they began and haven't noticed any reduction in size or quality of meals or service. Of course it may be a trick! (if I could tell,, it wouldn't be a trick would it? Hard to argue that one. ) I flew them recently July, September, November, February. If EK meals are getting smaller without us perceiving it, econ meals on EK versus NZ on the Tasman today is still like comparing something bought at a good hotel compared to a snack at a mediocre coffee shop. What I would like to see NZ doing is offer proper meals for those who wish to pay extra. (Of course those who have paid full-price econ tickets may object!) On the Tasman, NZ is caught between true no-frills (like JQ) and true full-service. With their now quality IFE (though not quite up to the standard of EK's ICE), fine FA's, and bright roomy B772ER's, NZ is only a meal away from being right up there with the best. It is a lot further down to true no-frills. But, as you say, NZer's are pretty loyal to NZ, and put up with a lot not to fly QF or (more) foreign airlines. But from what I have seen the past year, EK are building a pretty loyal following too. Just like for every place they fly.
I have not noticed any reduction in EK FA quality over time, though some say there has been a change. Compared to QF there is less variation in quality between FA's. Very reassuring! Of course with much better loadings there is more pressure on the FA's now. EK for me used to mean lots of spare seats and extra FA attention, as they build up a presence and goodwill; the last 3 trips have been 99-100% full. So EK loadings are going in the right direction:in the direction of A380's.

[Edited 2006-02-07 08:47:40]
 
pilotdude09
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:37 pm

Quoting Antskip (Thread starter):
EK start using bigger planes than the B345.

Dont you mean the A345? Wink

Good report, shame there was no pics though.
Qantas, Still calling Australia Home.........
 
airnewzealand
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Tue Feb 07, 2006 9:58 pm

Hey there AntSkip,

Let me assure you, they have decreased, crews have told me aswell as catering on the ground.
Their is noway i can argue with what they serve onboard tho, and yes i agree with you. The salads are absolutely delightful.

EK can afford to keep their service up with the number of flight attendants onboard. Onboard a 777-300 they have a config of 434pax(alot of pax for a 777) and 18 flight attendants. this means there is 1 flight attendant per 24 pax. That is a fantastic ratio!!!

Over at Qantas on our 767-300 we have a config of 230pax and 7 flight attendants. this means there is 1 flight attendant per 32.8pax.

And at AirNZ on their 777 they are config 313pax with 10 crew. this means there is 1 flight attendant to 31.3 pax.

As you can see from these figures, service can afford to be offered the way EK does it as they have alot of crew onboard to be able to offer this. Im sure if the other airlines had the oppurtunity to give the crew only a 24hour slip in EVERY port and work them like dogs, with no crew rest onboard they would do it.

It also comes down to which division is working the aircraft. QF have two aswell as AirNZ - Shorthaul and Longhaul.

Its interesting to note that EVERY single passenger has a different perspective when they hop onto an aircraft/airline. Some food, service, drinks, amenities, seats, TV's... and the list goes on. When you can distract the attention of a particular item from a passenger, they will no doubt get off very happy, as is the case with EK.

Maybe i have to fly them again, but to be perfectly honest, and from a flight attendants point of view, their product is amazing, but their service is NOTHING to write home about. I found that they hide behind the TV's, seats, Amenities, food, tray size esp. to give the human brain a mis-conception and draw their attention away from the lack of care, cosideration and option avaliable to the passengers.
When you next fly with Air Pacific or Qantas (cant comment on AirNZ as i havent flown them Tasman since the introduction of cafe food) way up what are on their tays and compare it to EK...it'll be exactly the same!
But all too their own, all airlines are fantastic and have their good, bad, and medicore days!!!!

Enjoy flying the blue skies, and keep safe!

Cheers
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 7:04 am

Thanks. Airnewzealand, for your fascinating perspectives and insights into the issues! Considering their superior numbers per passenger and superior product, no wonder EK FA's smile more than their opposition. However you also say that "Im sure if the other airlines had the oppurtunity to give the crew only a 24hour slip in EVERY port and work them like dogs, with no crew rest onboard they would do it". That would suggest a stressed EK crew...? Maybe the smaller amount of quality variation in EK service compared to QF reflects a more militarized/conformist ethic/teamwork (which would deal with stress well but would reduce individuality)? It would be interesting to know the viewpoint of an EK FA.

Pilotdude09, Yes, thanks; of course it was the A345! I really am sorry for lack of pics! I actually had a borrowed dig camera with me, but wasn't confident in its use or reliability. On the way back I attempted some some pics from the Auckland terminal that if any good might post up today or tomorrow. I did not have a window seat either way, so couldn't have provided any shots of wings, shorelines, etc. The EK meal (dinner) pics would have been very nice, but the NZ meal (brunch?) pic you can imagine just as well: a cardboard box, a hamburger role, a pineapple and coconut slice (that I somehow neglected to include in my report), and a cup of water. Followed by tea/coffee. The EK dinner (transcribed from the printed menu) was: 1) appetizer: Cajun Spiced Lamb Loin placed on lettuce, accompanied with pan-fired green courgettes, dried tomatoes and served with beetroot relish 2) Salad 3) Main course: choice of (i) Pan-fried Monk Fish on creamy parsely and garlic sauce, accompanied with a medley (! ) of vegetables and parsley potatoes; or (ii) Thai Style Chicken Curry: spicy chicken curry with a hint of coconut and lemon grass flavour, garnished with red chillies, accompanied with Chinese mixed vegetables and steamed rice. 4) Dessert: Glazed rasberrry Charlotte garnished with dark chocolate scroll and fresh mint. 5) Bread and butter, cheese, biscuits 6. Tea/coffee and chocolates.
My wife cannot eat food with any gluten. NZ could not offer her a gluten-free meal (there are only 2 options on NZ: standard and vegan). EK provided her with a delicious GF (gluten-free) meal. EK provides 11 "medical and dietary meal" options, 6 "religious" meals, and 7 other "special meal" options, along with the standard.

[Edited 2006-02-07 23:07:18]

[Edited 2006-02-07 23:09:20]

[Edited 2006-02-07 23:09:53]

[Edited 2006-02-07 23:19:33]
 
SpinalTap
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 8:40 am

Interesting comparison.

How much does EK charge for their wireless connections? The only info I could find on their webpage suggested it was going to cost $20USD for a connection for the entire flight. Did you try it out? It would be cool because you could surf A-net and make VOIP (Skype etc) calls (I bet a lot cheaper than their telephone service).

I hope Air NZ has some capability for on board internet. It would seem such a waste to do a major IFE upgrade and not include the possibility of it.
"I get what they call a stipend, a stipend is like money but its such as small amount they don't really call it money"
 
TG992
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 9:00 am

Our system has the capacity for full internet access for passengers in all classes.

As yet there is not sufficient satellite coverage of the Pacific to make it worthwile offering.
-
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:28 am

Quoting SpinalTap (Reply 10):
Did you try it out? It would be cool because you could surf A-net and make VOIP (Skype etc) calls (I bet a lot cheaper than their telephone service).

I didn't try it out as I don't travel with my beefy 15.4" widescreen laptop. Cattle class really needs a 12" laptop, IMHO. I don't think EK gives you access to anything but web-based e-mail, but I might be wrong. I guess they want to restrict the bandwidth. EK says though the net access is wifi at the mo in econ, they are going to expand access to laptops without wifi at some point.
Re the desire to phone via the web, the international phone service (via the phone on the back of the IFE remote) seemed very reasonable, though again I didn't write down details. About the same as for web access? Just the ability to phone anyone anywhere during these flights is invaluable.

Re NZ not utilizing its PAX internet ability, its PAX phones are not activated either.
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:39 am

Quoting Pilotdude09 (Reply 7):
shame there was no pics though

Here are some pics of the EK A345 and others at AKL:



I have posted more information on the various planes in the photos another thread on AKL airport departure lounge: Auckland's International Terminal (by Mattlancs Feb 6 2006 in Civil Aviation).
The original pics are much higher definition but my free photobucket account (started today!) cuts them down to size, it seems. Maybe there is a better way to post better quality pics. If anyone wants the bigger pics I can provide them.
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 12:19 pm

Here are some larger and clearer versions of the pics of EK407 A345 AKL-MEL-DXB, and other EK B777's EK419 AKL-SYD-BKK-DXB and EK433 AKL-BNE-SG-DXB, at AKL 4-2-6:

.
.
.
.
 
pilotdude09
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Wed Feb 08, 2006 11:50 pm

Thanks for the pics,
The terminal looks alot better than when it did in August it was just a big mess with all the construction going on etc.
Qantas, Still calling Australia Home.........
 
aussie_
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:17 am

I flew EK 3 times MEL-AKL. All flights packed.

First flight about a year ago now was still B773 operated (not 773ER). Flight was full, small PTV, no AVOD, food disappointing.

My more recent flight, about a month ago was a return sector MEL-AKL-MEL on A345. Service was amazing. ICE is the best entertainment package around (closely matched by VS's system), food was substantial and very tasty, seats comfortable, service efficient and friendly. Despite both flights being very full in Y, I was very impressed. And the rest of my family with me, on their first EK flight, were blown away. My mum is a regular traveller to Europe and I know she will be requesting EK for her next trip.
 
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:34 am

Quoting SpinalTap (Reply 10):
I hope Air NZ has some capability for on board internet. It would seem such a waste to do a major IFE upgrade and not include the possibility of it.

I read on stuff.co.nz last week that SQ will be offering Boeings Connexion internet on all SQ services to/from New Zealand by next month. The NZ CAA will grant SQ a special waver from the rules. NZ is currently studing the idea and will watch how SQs customers use the SQ internet.
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TG992
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:44 am

BTW, the phones were integrated into the IFE system with an eye to the future - at some point, calls will become economically viable to make from an aircraft seat (and yes, I dread the day as much, if not more, than you!)

I think NZ was supplied statistics by one of the American carriers that indicated that only 5-10 calls per day were made from the airphones in their huge jet fleet!
-
 
antskip
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:17 am

Quoting Aussie_ (Reply 16):
B773 operated (not 773ER). Flight was full, small PTV, no AVOD, food disappointing.

The EK 773 was so much improved an experience after suffering the gradually declining quality of NZ and QF, that I found little to criticize in it then. However I agree entirely that the EK A345 that has replaced the B773/2 on the EK MEL-AKL run the past year is a marked improvement on the old B773/2 service, mainly due to much improved IFE (EK's ICE). Apparently EK are upgrading the B773's and B772's to the same standard? It will be interesting to see what EK's A380's have in store. Quite apart from the in-flight experience, it is EK that at last broke the hold that NZ and QF had on the Tasman for half a century. Their spokespeople still speak of the Tasman as though they own it. They did, and the consumer suffered the situation. Now we can have a real choice of airlines; we can buy a cheap ticket within a day of travel, if it is available; and there is almost always cheap tickets available. A huge improvement from just 10 years ago.  Smile
 
JoeCattoli
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sat Feb 25, 2006 10:28 pm

Three EK airplanes in Auckland at the same time??? Is this normal???
Interesting report!!!
Ciao
Joe
 
Jetset25j
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 26, 2006 11:16 am

EK will always win handsdown on amenities etc, but my loyalties go to NZ every time I make my trans-tasman commute.
NZ offers a good product for what you pay and get. Who else offers fares almost always lower than DJ's everyday fares on a trans tasman and gives Y pax free sparkling wine (on a recent flight it was Deutz) and endless bar service starting from $149+Tax? (with exeption of QF's red e deals at times..)
The Tasman express product is perfect for the three hour trip.
(Really, I don't expect hot towels on a drive up to Albury..but it would be nice Wink)
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RE: MEL-AKL NZ Econ, AKL-MEL EK Econ

Sun Feb 26, 2006 2:23 pm

Quoting JoeCattoli (Reply 20):
Three EK airplanes in Auckland at the same time??? Is this normal???

Yes.
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