Welcome to my first TR. If there is anything I can do to improve it for next time, don’t hesitate to let me know! I endeavour to take the best pictures I can so I borrowed my friend’s DSLR so I could take good pictures. Unfortunately, the forecast showed that it was the worst day of the week to be flying – if I went on any other day, there would have been clear skies and great visibility. Just my luck!
Air New Zealand is my hometown airline and a few years ago they started these cheap flights under the name of “grabaseat” – offering a handful of flights daily for a cheaper price than usual. Some of their best deals include NZ$500 for return flights from AKL-LAX and SFO which is such a bargain even if you are restricted to fly at a certain date. This year, on the 13th of October, they sold 13,000 seats each for $13 one way, including all taxes, surcharges and levies, and I was lucky enough to grab a couple of these deals and head to Queenstown (and later to Napier) but just missed out on getting an AKL-OOL return ticket for the same price. This flight had the best domestic value: offering just under 4 hours of flying for a mere NZ$26! Opportunities like these are few and far between but I’d pay that any day for the scenery alone. I’ve flown into Queenstown once before and took this photo en-route from Christchurch but this time was my first direct flight to Queenstown from Auckland.
Photo © Nicholas Young
Auckland is the home of Air New Zealand and it sees various planes ranging from Britten-Norman Islanders to the 747-400 on scheduled services.
A 30 odd minute drive from my house to the airport by my chauffeur (dad) gave me plenty of time at the airport to do what I wanted while Airside as I don’t fly that often.
Air New Zealand is changing the way we fly and along with that comes a new check-in area with self-service booths and a drop-off conveyer belt for checked in luggage instead of the usual check-in counters. This was introduced at the beginning of the month. I’ll give you a tour of what it’s like checking in for an Air New Zealand domestic flight at Auckland Airport.
- Go to the self-service check-in counter
- Get your e-ticket out, scan the barcode/insert credit card/insert NZ or Star Alliance FF card/scan your RFID tag (only for high tiered NZ FF members)/”other”
- Confirm your flight details
- Choose your seat and number of bags you may have to check in
- Out comes your baggage tags
- There’s your boarding pass (this is however unneeded as your barcode or RFID tag is sufficient to board)
- Put your bags onto the conveyer belt to be taken around and sorted (I totally forgot about taking a pic of this step as I thought I was in a hurry)
All of this was done in a rush and then after I passed through security, I realised that the plane was delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft (arrived 9 minutes before scheduled takeoff) so I wandered around the domestic terminal. Here are some pictures of AKL domestic, both land and airside.
The Air NZ Arrivals Board
Shops In The Domestic Terminal
The Qantas/Pacific Blue Check In Area
It took a long time for the plane to come so I took these other photos of planes while waiting and listening on my scanner for any sign of an NZ 733 approaching Auckland.
Aerolineas Argentinas A340-200 Off To Sydney
Cathay Pacific A340-300 as CX118 Back To HKG
Air New Zealand 777-200ER Taxiing To Depart As NZ135 To BNE
Pacific Blue 737-800
Air New Zealand 737-300
Auckland’s Domestic Koru Club Lounge
Air NZ’s Domestic Jet Apron
Air New Zealand Departure Lounge
I finally saw one taxiing off the runway towards gate 30.
The new boarding system seems as though you are at an MTR station but without the barriers. All that needs to be done here is scan the barcode on the area which will then light up green when it knows a correct ticket has been placed on. Once it has lit up, you’re free to walk onboard!
The Boarding Pass
The Boarding Machine
Scanning Barcode On The Machine
25 Nov 2008
Routing: Auckland - Queenstown
Airline: Air New Zealand
Flight: NZ 639
Scheduled Time of Departure: 1000hrs
Actual Departure: 1032hrs (pushback), 1043hrs (rotate)
Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1150hrs
Flight time: 1hr 25 min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-3U3
NZ possesses one of the, if not, youngest 737-300 fleets in the world. ZK-NGD was delivered to NZ on 19-3-1999 after serving for Winair, but went straight to LOT Polish Airlines on lease.
Photo © Colin Hunter
The Air New Zealand 737 seating configuration is split into 2 areas: the Space+ zone covering the first 12 rows, and Economy which are rows 13-23. Space+ gives an extra few inches of legroom but for me, normal economy at around 30 inches is fine.
We were also delayed as there were some passengers who never boarded the plane but had luggage onboard.
Once the bags of the absentees were removed, we were on our way. Pushback didn’t seem to take too long and before we knew it, we were taxiing onto the runway.
The captain told us we would be flying at 36,000 feet on our flight down south with an expected flight time of 1 hr 25 which turned out to be dead accurate. We didn’t use up too much of runway 23L and were soon winging our way to Queenstown with a load factor of around 85%. The seatbelt sign was shortly switched off as usual after a bank towards the south. On offer on Air New Zealand domestic jet flights between around 10 to 5 is a choice of a few sweets (pineapple lumps and jet planes) or a small packet of cassava vege chips accompanied by tea, coffee or water. I can still remember my last full meal on a domestic flight back in April 2001. Those were the days... The snacks were far from filling but the coffee wasn’t too bad. Air New Zealand has put a nice touch on the tea/coffee cups. They include the available domestic routes from a selected destination in New Zealand with an example below of where you can fly direct from Hamilton.
After the snack, I plugged my iPod into my Bose noise cancelling headset and sat back to enjoy the view, albeit quite a cloudy one. There is a reason why the Maori word for this country is Aotearoa – the land of the long white cloud; and this is shown in some of the pictures below.
Cabin Shot, Also Showing In-flight Entertainment On The TVs: Kiwi Quiz
Mt Taranaki Somewhere Below That Cloud
Farewell Spit, North-Western Point Of The South Island
Abel Tasman National Park, And Wellington Below The Furthest Cloud In The Background
Motueka, And Some Orchards Under The Red Shade Cloth
Blanket Of Cloud
Just before we started our descent, the captain announced that there were some weather problems in Queenstown and telling people to stay calm if they had to perform a go-around. It was quite a turbulent descent after turning onto final and the entire cabin was unaware of the 30 to 40 knot crosswind and windshear the pilots were facing: I only figured out once we landed when I listened to ATIS on the scanner and watched a couple of planes land facing about 15 degrees away from the runway.
The Remarkables Ski Area Where You Can See Snow
Spoilers Deployed Upon Landing
Cabin Shot Of An Air New Zealand 737-300
Some shots of the little but warm Queenstown airport below.
Gulfstream V, Possibly Here For A Golfing Excursion: B-KID
Flight Information Screens
Scenery I Was Hoping To Encounter
Having lunch in front of an ATR 72 not too far away from you from a landside cafe is quite nice. On a better day you’d have breathtaking scenery as a backdrop to this plane too! The smoked chicken sandwich was extremely nice. There wasn’t much excitement at the airport as Qantas failed to make an appearance due to the weather but I listened to ATC as the ATR departed. It was quite interesting as they were all wondering whether the conditions were good enough to depart and once they confirmed the visibility was good enough, they were cleared to take off.
My Lunch Of A Smoked Chicken Sandwich
My 3 hours was soon up in the chilly Queenstown and it was time to head back home. I thought that, due to me only forking out a puny amount of money for the flight, I should really help out the local economy so I bought a bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir which cost more than the flight to Queenstown and hopefully it’ll be good! Checking in was a breeze. The automated check in (if you have bags) is only currently available in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch; whereas in all the other airports, you have the conventional check in booths. Due to all the Qantas flights being cancelled, passengers were forced to find another method of getting out of Queenstown. The crowd of people in one of the pictures below shows the line of people either getting refunds, rebookings or even a 5 hour bus to Christchurch and then connect to a flight up to Auckland. I do feel sorry for those booking on Qantas but hopefully the introduction of their RNP enabled 737-800s sometime next year will boost their reliability in and out of this amazing airport. Until then, make sure you fly Air NZ (preferably their jets) to be able to get in and out more easily!
The Check-In Area And The Thermometer Showing 9 Degrees At 1:35PM
After a brief chat to the agent wondering why I was only there for such a short period of time, I had my bag weighing 4.5kg (I only took it to try out the new system) checked in and my normal boarding pass back to Auckland. This boarding pass is quite redundant if you have the barcode on your e-ticket because you can just use that to board the plane.
Picture Of Boarding Pass
After waltzing through security, it was about 20 mins before boarding started. Here are some pictures of the departure lounge in Queenstown and some of the plane I’d soon board to return to Auckland.
25 Nov 2008
Routing: Queenstown - Auckland
Airline: Air New Zealand
Flight: NZ 644
Scheduled Time of Departure: 1515hrs
Actual Departure: 1510hrs (pushback), 1522hrs (rotate)
Scheduled Time of Arrival: 1700hrs
Flight time: 1hr 38 min
Aircraft: Boeing 737-319
This 737-300 was bought new by Air New Zealand and it is shown by the 2 digits following the series type: 19. It was initiated on 27-10-1999.
Photo © Seth Jaworski
Photo © Quinn Savit
Boarding was simple and I once again braved the southern chill to board the plane. Before we knew it, we were taxiing out onto the runway. Queenstown airport doesn’t have a taxiway so the runway is used to get into position. Both of the flights I’ve been on out of Queenstown have required a taxi down to the other end of the runway in order to take off. It’s quite fun getting in and out of Queenstown as you have mountains on each side of you and a lake to one end of the runway. Last time, brakes were applied until we reached about 50-75% thrust in able to take off but this time it was less noticeable, possibly due to the stronger winds on the day. It’s a real thrill having the brakes on and the engines firing away!
Normal Economy Seats
I finally got my first glimpse of Queenstown, the township, after a year’s absence but the picture wasn’t very clear. The climb out of Queenstown took us over Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, the only patch of clear sky over nearly the entire South Island. Cruising altitude on this flight was to be 32,000 feet. It was less eventful than the outbound flight but still enjoyable. Following pictures are of the flight back home, including the snack of chips (note the size.. My hand isn’t that big) and another of Air New Zealand’s designs on their tea/coffee cups – this time with a pohutakawa (native New Zealand tree, otherwise known as the New Zealand Christmas tree) flower on it. I was amazed by the wonderful cloud formations visible from the plane and also a halo created around the aircraft, making a rainbow effect on the clouds below.
Queenstown Somewhere Down There
Packet Of Cassava Chips
Abel Tasman National Park Closer Up And Also Nelson And In The Background The Kaikoura Ranges, Possibly Mistaken For Cloud
Interesting Cloud Formations
A Halo Created Around The Plane Creating A Rainbow Effect
Descent into Auckland happened somewhere over Waikato but it was too cloudy to name any of the townships below. The weather back in Auckland seemed just as dreary as the weather I had encountered in Queenstown not so long ago. Flaps were extended for the approach and before I knew it, I was back where I started from earlier in the morning. We used up a lot of runway to stop and exited the runway down by the international terminal and it gave me a chance to take a few pictures of the airport from the runway.
Auckland’s Southern Motorway
A Miserable Auckland Day
One Of My Favourite Spotting Points At AKL
Touchdown, With The NZ Maintenance Hangar, 772, 744 And 722
Auckland’s International Terminal
Emirates 77W (EK419) Back To DXB via SYD And BKK
Just Landed: NZ744 From Melbourne As NZ124
NZ Propeller Apron
Once we landed, I picked up my bag and headed home after a very enjoyable daytrip. The service was great, the flights were great and the delay didn’t eventuate in a lot of time cut off my time in Queenstown. It’s hard to compare NZ to QF on domestic flights due to the fact basically no meals are given out and ground staff for NZ could also do QF queues.. Although one airline is much more reliable than the other.
I hope you all enjoyed this trip report!
My next trip report will be on Air NZ’s ATR 72 and Dash 8-Q300 to Napier, coming over the next few weeks.
Air NZ for their wonderful deals with grabaseat and service on board
Michael for letting me borrow his camera while mine was in Sydney