Just returned from a return trip MEL
. 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
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
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.
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
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).
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
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
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
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.