Hi everyone and welcome to my fifth TR.
My previous trip reports can be found following the links below:
Grabbing A Seat With Air NZ Part 1/2: AKL-ZQN-AKL (by NZ107 Dec 1 2008 in Trip Reports)
Grabbing A Seat With Air NZ Part 2/2: AKL-NPE-AKL (by NZ107 Dec 22 2008 in Trip Reports)
Air New Zealand: NZ105 AKL-SYD Economy (by NZ107 Feb 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
A Whale Of A Time: Emirates A380 Inaugural SYD-AKL (by NZ107 Feb 15 2009 in Trip Reports)
The New Zealand domestic scene is hotting up with the recent arrival of Jetstar (replacing Qantas, who in New Zealand were flying under the name of Jetconnect) on the main trunk routes (Between AKL, WLG, CHC, ZQN), sharing the market with Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue. I thought it was about time to check these LCCs out on a short hop to Wellington and back and compare the flights with Air New Zealand.
I apologise in advance for the photo quality as both flights were taken at night. Nonetheless, I still gave it a go.
Air New Zealand knew that there was competition on the way so the weekend before the fiasco of cheaper fares offered by the launch of Jetstar and Pacific Blue matching those fares, NZ used their grabaseat website to promote $10 one way fares on the main trunk. It was too cheap to avoid and I got in there and booked many seats for me and my family. The hype surrounding the grabaseat fares provides a great adrenalin rush as your seats aren’t confirmed until you have paid and the confirmation window comes up. It sure gave me a few rushes throughout the day!
On the morning of the day I was flying south, the weather in Wellington was horrendous and it caused the cancellation of many flights. The backlog was never able to clear itself so it resulted in a delay of 45 minutes to my flight to Wellington. Without knowing the severity of the delays, I arrived at the airport thinking that I’d have to rush upstairs to get on my flight but as a matter of fact, I had around an hour to kill at the domestic terminal. The terminal was rather dead at this time of the evening with many staff in the check in area to assist if anyone needed help. I chose a seat in the last row because I wouldn’t think the flight was going to be full. Out came the boarding pass and baggage tag for my checked in luggage and I was off to explore the terminal again.
Auckland Airport has recently installed a few free internet booths into the domestic airport. Seeing as I had plenty of time on my hands, I thought I would try it out and made an attempt to get onto A.Net. Surprisingly enough, the page would never load on the 8 or so computers I tried so I gave up. It must be too memory intensive
A better idea would be to provide free wireless internet than these booths which don’t open up sites that you really wish to see. Another “exciting” event at the airport that night was the disposal of someone’s abandoned box. Some guy went over to it and wheeled it towards the AvSec man who shouted at him to leave it alone. I think the bomb sniffer dog did the once over and then they took the package away.
The Not So Good Free Internet
AKL Departures FIDS
AKL Baggage Carousel
AKL Arrivals FIDS, Note The Delays
DJ/QF(JQ later) Check In Area
I eventually wandered up through security to the gates. Night time at AKL isn’t particularly exciting with a few flights to North America, Asia and ones arriving from Australia; all of them being scattered throughout the night. So in the time that I was upstairs, I think I saw 3 movements and that was it.
Original Departure Gates
The View: The Green Machine
My Ride To Wellington
15 May 2009
Routing: Auckland – Wellington (AKL-WLG)
Airline: Air New Zealand
Scheduled Time of Departure: 2000hrs
Actual Time of Departure: 2045 (pushback), 2053 (rotate)
Scheduled Time Of Arrival: 2100
Flight Time: 58 min
Aircraft: Airbus Boeing 737-319
Photo © Colin Hunter
Photo © John Rankin
Air New Zealand is soon going to replace their 737-300 fleet for either an A319/320 or a 73NG fleet over the coming years. The 737 has done a good job with domestic services. They have the youngest 733 fleet in the world and ZK-NGJ was delivered on the 17th December 1999.
There weren’t too many people lining up for boarding and I was soon on the plane, heading to the last row. The plane didn’t exactly fill up much more (at most 75%) and I had the entire row to myself for the first time ever! I could have had 6 seats to myself if it weren’t for the flight attendants helping an old lady and making sure she was looked after well. The tray tables were littered with crumbs from the snack on the previous flight which wasn’t ideal. Nevertheless, they made sure we made up for as much time as we could in getting to Wellington due to the 45 minute delay.
vs Normal Economy Legroom
The recline of the final row is limited by the rear bulkhead but having 3 seats to myself to stretch out over definitely negated the lack of full recline.
Pushback as mentioned above was 45 minutes after schedule and take off was smooth on a calm Auckland evening. Soon after takeoff, the captain came over the PA announcing the cruising altitude of 36,000 feet and also to announce that one of the flight attendants on board was celebrating 25 years of service with Air New Zealand. What an achievement. She got a warm round of applause from the passengers; it was at the ear popping stage of the flight but I’m sure she appreciated it. There was no view from the window and the bright light of the 733 was very annoying. I don’t particularly seem to understand the purpose of it but it wrecked any potential photos I attempted.
After the small snack, it was time to relax and spread out over the 3 seats! I managed to make a little haven of my own. Service was great, the flight attendants were extremely friendly and even took great interest in my camera and tripod (gorillapod) I happened to take onboard.
My Nest In The Last Row, WIFI On Board – I Wish!
Surely enough it was soon time to land. The bright lights of Wellington came into view, showing the urban sprawl scattered around the harbour. It was a really nice sight too. I was expecting the landing to be quite bumpy but definitely not as bumpy as I had wished or experienced before and not long after, we landed on Runway 34. The only bad thing about sitting at the back of the plane is the time you have to wait to disembark. But it meant that my bag was out at the other end when I got down to the carousels.
Lights Of Wellington
Inbound From Christchurch
Pretty Small C-5!
Baggage Carousel In Wellington
Wellington was pretty windy on the day I was there. It was blowing a northerly which was fine by me as it wasn’t going to freeze the living daylight out of me!
A few shots from Wellington:
View Of Terminal From The Road
Air New Zealand Pier From Other Side Of Runway
”Wild At Heart” - Wellington’s Terminal
NZ Dash 8
NZ Beech 1900D
Maranui SLSC Cafe, Lyall Bay
View From The Cafe
Plane Spotting Never Ends!
Airport From Nearby Hill
After a bit of fun with my cousins, it was time to head home.
Luckily, they live very close to the airport and I happened to forget my laptop charger (I couldn’t imagine myself without use of a laptop for a week!).
Wellington Airport is New Zealand’s 3rd largest airport. Being the capital city of New Zealand, it has many domestic services. The short runway currently lies under 2000m long and isn’t long enough for long haul flights or profitable widebody services; it only has international routes to Australia and the Pacific Islands. The one terminal suits perfectly for both domestic and international flights. The pier on the left is only for Air New Zealand domestic and the pier on the right shared between international flights and also Jetstar/Pacific Blue’s domestic flights.
Departure Drop Off Point
Air New Zealand Check In
Air New Zealand International Check In Area
Air New Zealand Domestic Check In Area
DJ/QF/JQ Check In Area
On The Left Is The International Check In; Domestic Is By The Kiosks
”The Rock”, Construction Of
Checking in is exactly the same as in Auckland.
Bag Drop Off
Seeya In Auckland!
At Least You’ll Know Where To Go For An International Flight!
For now, Wellington Airport is providing free Wireless internet in the departures hall which is a great feature that not many airports provide. I made use of this and got onto A.Net properly this time, unlike in Auckland (and for that matter on the plane)!
Scanning Boarding Pass
Vibrantly Coloured Jetway!
16 May 2009
Routing: Wellington – Auckland (WLG-AKL)
Airline: Air New Zealand
Scheduled Time of Departure: 1730
Actual Time of Departure: 1732 (pushback), 1742 (rotate)
Scheduled Time Of Arrival: 1830
Flight Time: 56 min
Aircraft: Airbus Boeing 737-319
Photo © Quinn Savit
Photo © Colin Hunter
I boarded the plane and noticed that the plane was swaying! I’ve experienced that a little bit before but I’ve always thought it was from people loading the cargo into the plane! Then I realised that it was the wind. People going down the aisle to their seats including me nearly lost their balance as the swaying was rather unpredictable. We hadn’t taken off yet it was bumpier than the flight itself! This time, the plane was pretty full, probably between 95 and 100% full. That meant sitting next to someone! Trapped in the far corner of the cabin! Seats 23 B and C were already occupied so I caused them even more trouble by climbing over them to reach my window seat. I was to later learn that they were on their way to the Pacific Islands in Business.. No idea how they ended up in the last row of the plane! A kid and her uncle deserved to be in Space+, as that is what it was kinda intended for. But luckily I was sitting next to the kid, giving me slightly more room.
Soon enough, we pushed back and made our short taxi to the base of Runway 34. Engines were revved up and the baby Boeing climbed effortlessly out of Wellington, aided by the howling gale.
Wellington City On Departure
Once we were clear of the clouds, we were greeted with a beautiful sunset. However, nothing that I could capture on my camera can quite grasp that moment as well as being there in real life; pretty much like any sunset I’ve experienced from the air.
It was a rather uneventful flight. The “snack” service finally reached the back of the plane. Tea, coffee and water was served like usual. The nice flight attendant offered the girl next to me a glass of milk which was a real surprise. I guess they had plenty of milk left over after going through the cabin but to actually give a whole up away to a kid was amazing. It was a really nice touch. They surely know how to look after most onboard – I’d much prefer one more option but it’d probably be too costly to provide..
Soon after, we started out descent into Auckland. The FAs came around with the “famous Air New Zealand hard boiled sweets”. The original producers of these lollies, Pascall, discontinued a lot of favoured sweets and I’m led to believe that factory also made these Air New Zealand sweets. Air New Zealand had generic ones for a few months but now they’re back in the same wrapper but the company who now makes them has different flavours. I was rather disappointed when I reached for the colours I have traditionally known to be nice flavours but it backfired. I guess I’ll have to fly some more and find out which ones are the better ones! The landing was smooth and we were soon at the gate.
Air New Zealand is a great airline, especially on the New Zealand domestic network. Its routes cover the entire country and its schedules are second to none. The flight attendants have pride and passion in working for Air New Zealand, shown in their superb service which is rather consistent. The current battles on the domestic scene have changed since 2001 when they stopped offering meals onboard and replaced them with biscuits and other small bits and pieces. The journey from the full service domestic carrier to where they are now has made them extremely competitive and it has seen the price of fares come down. Their planes may not be as new as their competitors’ fleets but they are still reliable and do the job well. A comparison will be made at the end of the second trip report. That concludes the first half of the report and the second will promptly follow once I’ve taken the flight this coming Monday. A link will be provided in a later reply.
Thanks for reading and remember that comments of any type are very welcome!
[Edited 2009-06-24 22:11:16]