Hi everyone and welcome to my third trip report.
The previous 2 can be found by clicking on the following links:
Grabbing A Seat With Air NZ Part 1/2: AKL-ZQN-AKL
Grabbing A Seat With Air NZ Part 2/2: AKL-NPE-AKL
These were done mainly as a practice to make sure I wasn’t going into this trip to Sydney without any clue of what I was going to do. They give an insight to what Air New Zealand’s domestic service is like – the first one on their jet service and the second on their large turboprops. This one should hopefully show you what Air New Zealand’s short haul international service in economy is like. Hope you enjoy it!
Air New Zealand is based primarily in Auckland with a lot of domestic and international flights daily. Their international service sees direct flights between AKL and Australia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, the Pacific Islands, Hawaii, California, Vancouver and London served through HKG and LAX. For their flights to Sydney, they use a combination of A320s, 767-300ERs, 777-200ERs and the very occasional 747-400. Most of the Trans Tasman flights are done by the A320 and the 767-300ER.
The reason for my trip to Sydney was to be able to catch the first commercial (and scheduled) A380 flight into New Zealand on Emirates. I decided to go to Sydney before rather than after the event (getting on the inbound A380 rather than outbound) so I could be in Sydney for Australia Day and a few other things. I originally booked myself on NZ107 (see the resemblance with my username? ) – a 767; but then due to declining demand, it was downgraded to an A320 (consequently the alteration of the flight number to NZ707 followed). I then asked for a flight change to NZ105 so that I could go on a 767. Luckily for me, they granted me with a free change but told me that it’d cost me $100 if I changed it again. NZ105 departs AKL a few hours earlier than NZ107.
Auckland to Sydney is an important link between the two biggest cities in New Zealand and Australia respectively. This route is the largest international route by volume of passengers departing from either Australia or New Zealand and a total of six – soon to be seven airlines: Air New Zealand, Qantas, Emirates, Lan Chile, Aerolineas Argentinas and Pacific Blue with Jetstar starting operations later this year. Although it is fairly low yielding, it still has greater passenger volumes than the likes of SYD-SIN.
Air New Zealand have recently retrofitted their A320 and 763 fleets to incorporate AVOD and new seats. Previously, all they had was a projector on the bulkhead, a few TV screens every few aisles and no selection. Prior to this trip I heard that the 763s had a few glitches and I was hoping I’d be able to test out the fully functional version. If it wasn’t for the new IFE, I would have chosen to fly with Emirates.
Air New Zealand allows you to prebook your seat. After taking a look at seatguru, I decided against a Space+ seat which became available in an apparent row which had a window missing. Space+ seats in the 767 give you another 3+ inches of legroom and at least 1 inch more recline. So I settled for 24A. I chose the Port window seat simply because I believed I would get a view of the city on our approach to Sydney, similar to when I flew Emirates’ 777-300ER to Sydney, when we flew south over the runway before doing a 180 and landed. This time with a Digital SLR I thought I’d have a chance at getting a good shot of the city.
Sydney During Downwind Leg On My Last Visit
The flight was an afternoon flight, my first flight of coming into Sydney during the daytime. Scheduled to depart at 4pm, I told my dad to take me at around 1pm so that I had plenty of time to spot and take a stroll around the airport.
Auckland Airport is New Zealand’s largest airport and the 3rd largest airport in Australasia in terms of passenger volume. Its international terminal has recently received a new pier which has 2 gates with double airbridges, ready for the A380. These airbridges can also be swung around to form 4 smaller stands for aircraft such as A320s and 737sIt handles all kinds of traffic and now the A380 also flies here. The main international pier is made up of 10 gates, most of them are 744 capable but all of these gates only have single airbridges. . The layout of the forecourt has changed dramatically from a couple of years ago and now does not have any metered parking but all parking is now diverted to the main carpark. The innermost lane, which leads directly to the building and check in area, has had a major turnaround from public traffic only to now only allowing taxis, shuttles and buses. I haven’t been there in the mid morning but would assume it’d be chaotic.
Approaching The Airport
The International Terminal
After being dropped off at 1:15pm, I checked in straight away and to my surprise there was basically no queue and within a minute of being in line, I moved to a check in counter, one of about 90 in the terminal. I don’t think the person even looked at my itinerary but just took my passport and did everything from there. It wasn’t very personal but it only took a couple of minutes. I was thankful that she didn’t reject my 24kg bag saying it was too heavy! With my boarding pass in hand, it was time to take a look around the terminal.
Air New Zealand Premium Check In Area
Normal Check In Area
International Departure FIDS
Extended Check In Area
Main Check In Area
Landside Departure Hall
The landside departure hall, upstairs from the check in area, hasn’t changed much in many years: just a few shops changing hands and a few more opening up in the once empty area in the middle. A few shops, McDonalds and a food court caps off the departure hall of the biggest airport in the country. An escalator rising above the security area leads to the observation decks. Although there is a lot of glass, you are able to see half of the international pier and look down past the domestic terminal to incoming traffic on certain days.
Landside Departure Hall
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Back To Singapore As SQ286
Air New Zealand A320
Air New Zealand 747-400s
The Plane That Would Take Me To Sydney
Air Calin A330-200 Back To Noumea
Air New Zealand 767-300 Getting Towed To The Gate
[b]My Last Sighting Of A CX 747-400 In Auckland
The View From The Skydeck At Auckland
More FIDS – Better Go To Security!
The Gate For Departing Passengers
I spent way too long up on the observation deck waiting for the CX 744 to depart, and didn’t realise that the time was flying past. The pathetic immigration queue in Auckland gave 4 customs officers to the few families and special needs people that went through and the majority of people were stuck with two officers. This took about 20-25 minutes when it should have only taken 10. Very poor considering there was a sign in front of each customs booth with “We deliver the best welcome and customs experience in the Pacific”. Inference taken here: the Pacific must be pretty damn awful to clear customs in if this experience was supposed to be the best! But finally I was on my way and after a quick stop in the duty free area to get a free sample of some Bailey’s Mint Chocolate (by chance), I was off to do a tiny bit of exploring. I quickly went halfway down the new pier to take a few photos of the 2 Emirates planes and ran back just in case I missed the flight.. I didn’t really want the following message to come across the PA system either: “Paging passenger Young on flight NZ 105 to Sydney, please go immediately to gate seven. Your aircraft is ready to depart and all other passengers are waiting for you”. From immigration right up to gates 5 and 6, there are shops, lounges, a chapel and a foodcourt. Beyond gates 5 and 6 there is barely anything but a bit of seating and a few decorations, mainly foliage. Due to this rush, I went straight into the queue to board the plane without taking any pictures until I was on the jetway.
Plane Of New Zealand’s Most Famous Female Aviator, Jean Batten
Shopping Just Past Immigration
Walkway To The New Pier
Departing FIDS With Information About Boarding Time
Walkway To Gates 15 and 16 On The New Pier
The Other Side Of The Pier
Emirates 77W And A345
Food Court On The Pier
21 Jan 2009
Routing: Auckland – Sydney (AKL-SYD)
Airline: Air New Zealand
Scheduled Time of Departure: 1600hrs
Actual Time of Departure: 1555 approx (pushback), 1611 (rotate)
Scheduled Time Of Arrival: 1730
Flight Time: 2 hr 3 min
Aircraft: Boeing 767-319ER
Photo © KianHong
Photo © Jonathan Rankin
Air New Zealand now has five 763s in their fleet. NCL arrived new from Boeing in late October 1997. This was my first time flying out of Auckland on an international flight on Air New Zealand and on a 763 in the afternoon and my first time on a 763 to Sydney. With the aircraft being just over 11 years old, it seems as though Air New Zealand may keep this fleet until the 787-9s arrive. I believe they are going to have blended winglets fitted to them to increase their efficiency. Their 763s are made to fly quite long legs as well as the Tasman hop, including AKL-HNL, AKL-KIX, AKL-PER, RAR-LAX, APW-LAX and in the past have included AKL-TPE, AKL-HKG, AKL-NRT and AKL-SIN.
As I entered the plane, it seemed to be quite spacious after my experiences on the 737, Dash 8 and ATR 72. After sitting down, I realised that the cabin was really hot and began to wonder if they were trying to climatise us for the boiling temperatures which would greet us in Sydney. Nevertheless, the plane continued to fill and it seemed to be around 85% full. I find it fascinating that the online seat request often shows the plane 1/3 full until a couple of days out when it becomes apparent that the flight would be much fuller than expected. I was really looking forward to having an empty seat next to me! Too bad it wasn’t the case.
I started playing around with the IFE to see if Airshow would be working on this aircraft but after I clicked on it, the screen went black and I had to press the home button on the remote to get the system back to normal. A real let-down for me as I had basically travelled Air New Zealand to test out their new IFE but of course it wasn’t fully functional. It was such a shame because what went with the Airshow program were the maps, the camera views, speeds, altitude and other bits of information that keep the flight interesting. Air New Zealand’s selection of movies, music and TV shows didn’t seem to be that comprehensive during my flick through of services, however having a PTV and AVOD is a big and a much needed improvement to how things have been in the past. One positive of Air New Zealand’s IFE is that you can create a music playlist out of all the available tracks on the system. Of course having an iPod would be much better as you have your own preference of songs etc but it’s not bad. I didn’t try out the USB photo viewer but that is also a nice inclusion, possibly better for those longer haul flights.
Screen And Control
Air New Zealand’s 767 economy seat is quite comfortable. 32 inches of legroom is ample for someone like me and the recline isn’t bad. The new colours are much darker than the previous seats, similar to what is in the 737, were. The tray table is halved to increase room for the PTV and they have netting for a drink bottle in front of the seat pocket. The extra 3 inches from the Space+ seat would have been quite nice. If it’s offered to you, there’s no point in letting an opportunity to get service first and more space slip past!
Seats 15A And B: Window’s Not Too Bad!
After half an hour of sitting on the plane and fiddling with the IFE, we pushed back from the gate: next stop Sydney. It looked like such a nice day to be flying and it didn’t disappoint! Takeoff on 23L was quite powerful and before too long we were airborne.
Rotate! Runway 23L
Climbing To 37,000 Feet
It was a good 40 minutes before the flight attendants came around to serve an afternoon tea/dinner kind of meal. What was offered was chicken cordon bleu with sweet potato (kumara) and a little bit of salad or pasta bake with lamb and some kind of raspberry (sauce?). For dessert there was a small tub of Kapiti Pohutakawa Honey ice cream. After the food trolley passed, it was shortly followed with the drinks trolley. I grabbed a red wine and a Coke. It was a very satisfying meal but I really wish it was bigger. Air New Zealand started these “cafe” style meals around 2002. I don’t think their purpose was to fill you up, more keep you from being hungry on this flight.
Flight Attendants Doing The Drink Run
The rest of the flight was quite uneventful with the odd bump, making the pilots turn on the seat belt sign but this was very minor turbulence. Crew continually came around to top up drinks. Cruising at FL370, we were way above the clouds. I decided to check out the rear lavatory and take a few pictures of the cabin. I left it quite late as the flight attendants had already instructed some kids to hand out the Air New Zealand lollies. I was so glad to see the Air New Zealand lollies again, and in abundance too!
Rear Economy Toilet
Knowing that we were descending, I knew that we weren’t too far out from the airport. A few manoeuvres got us close enough so that we could see land. On my first sighting of land, I noticed a bushfire burning away to the south and really miserable weather all around. We banked right to get closer to the flight path for 34L and while we were doing that, a few flashes of lightning were discharged somewhere over Sydney. Such a shame I missed taking a picture of it because it really would have been amazing. The lightning continued right throughout our descent. Once we were over the threshold, I spotted a BA 772, SQ A380, QF A380 and a QF 763 holding short – I was amazed that within my first seconds being at Sydney Airport, A380 capital of the world, I had already expanded my A380 spottings from 1 to 3! I hadn’t changed my camera settings so added with the slightly swaying plane, I got extremely poor images of these planes. A smooth touchdown was accompanied by me taking tonnes of unsuccessful pictures hoping for some lightning strikes. The plane soon had a short taxi to gate 60 to conclude the rather enjoyable flight. I took a few pictures on my way out. Customs didn’t take too long, luggage didn’t either and the query on my declared food didn’t even require me to get anything out or x-ray anything so I was happy. I walked outside to 30 degree temperatures and began my rather warm holiday in Sydney!
Bushfires And Rain
So Sorry For The Quality: BA 772
Gate I’d Use When Departing On The A380
Air New Zealand is a good airline to fly. Their service on the short hop across the Tasman was great. The one thing I like about the 767s is that you only have one person to climb over if you’re on the window seat, and this along with many other choices (extra seat recline, pitch and width I think) is the reason why I opted for the 767 over the A320. The flight attendants did perform above satisfaction and were fine with me taking plenty of pictures before disembarking. I couldn’t have asked much more of them. The only things I was slightly disappointed with were the size of meal portions and the fact that the Airshow on the IFE wasn’t going – something I would have watched for the entire flight. I guess that would be the benefit of flying in the A320 until they get this sorted out. The seats were comfortable and I could have spent much longer on the plane if I needed to. The back of the normal economy class cabin has less legroom than the front of normal economy class but if any opportunity arises where you area able to get into the Space+ cabin, take that seat.
Coming up in a week or so will be my EK A380 inaugural AKL service in Economy.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!