Round New Zealand on Air New Zealand
Flight 1: NZ 5096
Date: 12 April
Aircraft: ATR 72-500
At the tail end of my RTW trip using various Star Alliance Carriers (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), I decided to give try out the domestic service of Air New Zealand. I wasn’t really travelling all the way around New Zealand, just on the CHC-WLG-AKL trunk routes; I didn’t have the time to travel further afield.
The only domestic trips I have done in New Zealand before this was a flight between Wellington and Christchurch on a National Airways Corporation 737-200 way back in January 1977 and a flight from Wellington to Auckland a couple of years ago so early in the morning that I can’t remember what it was like.
After flying into Christchurch from New York, I was felling a little tired, but OK – no doubt the sleep I had on the very comfortable Business Premier seat on the LAX-AKL leg was paying dividends. After arriving at my hotel, I charged the camera battery, had another shower and drank another coffee before leaving for Christchurch’s domestic airport. This time I caught the bus, rather than a taxi. After a short wait for the City Flyer Airport bus outside the bus exchange I hopped on and paid my $NZD 12.00 return fare. The Domestic terminal is right next to the International terminal.
I used my Air New Zealand “e-pass” for the first time to collect my boarding passes. I received all 4 boarding passes at once. I didn’t have much time to spare; only 20 minutes before my flight, so, anticipating queues at security I went straight to the gate. This is where I got my first surprise.
It was a pleasant surprise, but a biggy. There was no security! I was travelling up to Wellington on an ATR 72 -500 turbo-prop. The flight (NZ5096) was leaving from gate 10 at 10:55. I was surprised to walk straight up to the gate and not have any security – I guess the NZ risk assessment says that smaller aeroplanes are not likely to be hi-jacked! This is not the case in Australia, I occasionally flight on Dash-8s from SYD to CAN and vice-versa and we have to pass through security each time. I guess NZ is a safer country. More seriously, it was pleasing to see that the security loonies who seem to rule the world these days were kept in their box.
The boarding call for the flight was made at 11:00am, five minutes after the scheduled departure time. The reason was a late arriving flight. In fact I saw the aeroplane arrive at 10:46am.
Everyone was on board by 11:10am and the doors were shut at about 11:12am. There were about 30 passengers in the all economy cabin, so the flight was only about half full. I had a row to myself and so did the people around me. There were 2 flight attendants to look after us on this relatively short flight. A manual safety display was done as we pushed back at 11:18am. We took off from runway 20 at about 11:21 after a short takeoff run of 25 seconds.
This was the first time I had flown on an Aerospatiale product. It was a bit noisier than the Dash 8s that Qantas fly. The leg room was OK for a short trip but I noticed that the seat did not have a seat recline facility. It also has individual air-conditioning and light controls – they were looking a bit dirty to me.
As we got up to our cruising altitude, the noise engine seemed to abate.
The seat was not that comfortable, it was obviously built for a short Franco-Italian male rather than your average ruggedly built son of the southern-cross. I felt like the seat was forcing me to hunch forward like Quasimodo. The in-flight service consisted of a water, coffee and tea service with a biscuit, in this case a “Vienna Gold” macaroon cookie, followed by s cup of tea. Perfectly adequate for a short flight.
I forgot to mention the famous boiled sweet that comes with the service
The Cake Tin
Although the facilities are much better at the stadium, I really miss Athletic Park!
The flight attendants were professional and typically friendly. We flew up the east coast of New Zealand and landed on runway 16 at 12:05pm and were at the gate 1 minute later.
Other members of the Air New Zealand Link Fleet parked on the apron at Wellington Airport.
Wellington Domestic Airport – The Air New Zealand Lounge at Wellington was much bigger than I expected, I guess it gets a lot of government traffic and Air New Zealand wants to keep the politicians and civil servants happy. I wish Qantas would take a leave out of their book because the Qantas Club at Canberra Airport is woefully inadequate for the peak traffic through there! In fact I never seem to be able to get a seat.
It was not very busy on Easter Sunday when I was there, but quite well stocked with cold food and drinks.
Views of the apron from the lounge
Flight 2: NZ 450
Date: 12 April
I didn’t eat or drink anything in the lounge as I wasn’t hungry or thirsty but in no time, my flight to Auckland was being called. Naturally, I had to go through security this time, but it was as inoffensive as such a procedure can be. I was at Gate 11 by 12:30pm. Boarding started at 12:40pm and passengers were called by row. When I boarded, I was greeted by name by a very friendly flight attendant and directed to me seat in Space +.
The doors were shut at about 12:57 and we pushed back at 1:00pm. The safety video was played and the idiots on board were shown how to buckle their seat belts – I know all airlines show it, but you have to wonder if someone needs to be shown how to buckle a seat belt, should they be travelling (young children excepted).
Wellington…wild at heart…like a wet sheep!
We took of at 1:07 after a 30 second take off run. The captain jumped on the PA system to say hello and give us a few details of the flight. Cruising altitude was 37,000 feet and the flight was 40 minutes long. He wished everyone a happy Easter
I have to say I was slightly surprised that the in-flight service was only chips, sweets and biscuits – this was a lunch-time flight. I guess I would have to have a spot of lunch at the Auckland Koru Club.
The Vege Crisps weren’t even very nice – way too fatty for my taste.
The famous boiled sweet with a season friend!
We touched down on runway 23L just after 1:00pm and pulled up to the gate about 5 minutes later.
Fill ‘er up mate!
As I’m sure everyone know, Auckland it the major city in New Zealand, so I was expecting a bit more variety in the traffic at the airport. Of course it was dominated by Air New Zealand, but there was at least some variety.
The Koru Lounge was large and in a good position to view the active runway.
How much longer will this bird be seen? An Air Tahiti Nui taxis to the active runway
I didn’t know it at the time, but this bird was to take me back to Wellington and thence Christchurch.
Taking off for Papeete
Don’t see many of these Britten-Norman Trislanders these days.
Time to go to the gate for my flight back to Wellington.
Flight 3: NZ 445
Date: 12 April
Aircraft: Boeing 737 3U3
Boarding was called at 3:10pm, again it was on time. Again boarding was done by row.
Gotta love Economy +
I was seated by 3:20pm and the doors shut at 3:28pm, followed by a 3:30pm push back. The security/safety video was played while the FAs watched us watching the video.
What did this used to be?
We took off from runway 23L at 3:36 after a 30 second takeoff run.
The captain introduced himself and gave us the usual stats, 36,000 feet cruising altitude and a 45 minute flight. In-flight service was the usual water/snack/coffee run. I didn’t partake this time, I was in Auckland long enough to satisfy the hunger pains from the buffet.
Approaching Wellington from the south.
We touched down at 4:22pm on runway 34 and were at the terminal by 4:26pm
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By this time, i.e. 4:30pm on Sunday 12 April 2009, I was beginning to feel really tired – after all I had been flying all day today and constantly on the move since Friday afternoon when I left JFK airport on the long flight to CHC. When I disembarked, I realised that this aeroplane was taking me back to Christchurch. As I only ha 20 minutes to wait, and I was really tired, I stayed at the gate, I had already seen the Koru Lounge at Wellington.
Don’t tell me real food was being loaded onboard.
Flight 4: NZ 479
Date: 12 April
Aircraft: Boeing 737 3U3
Boarding was started on time at 4:40pm. I was so tired that I actually sat in the wrong seat, 6A instead of 5A. When the proper owner came along, I had to excuse myself and slide into the seat in front of me.
Note quite my seat
This is the correct seat
I feel safer just looking at them.
The doors shut at 5:00pm and we pushed back at 5:03pm. After the safety video was played, we took of from Wellington Airport at 5:12pm after a 25 second take off run.
Real food wasn’t loaded on board, just the usual snacks – do they really need such a big truck for so little food?
I went for the biscuit this tim