NZ 24 (SQ code-share) / AKL - SIN
Approx. scheduled dep. - 0955hrs
Approx. scheduled arr. - 0100hrs
Flight time - 9hrs 55mins
Aircraft - 767-300
Class - Business
Took this flight several months ago. Booked an AirPoints members' special @ only SGD$799 return, and traded in 17000pts for a 1 way/class upg. on a space available basis.
It was business as usual at Changi T2. Calm, clean and spacious. Headed straight to the "Raffles Class" counter. Both the AirNZ pax at the counter next to me and I had difficulties checking in as all the terminals at AirNZ were logged on, squeezing out the SQ staff that were trying to check their pax in. They personally escorted us to the AirNZ counter. Once again there was a delay, and after a few tense moments awaiting my upg. authorisation, I was handed my boarding pass for an aisle seat in the centre block and my lounge invitation.
The lounge turns out to be the SATS (SQ's ground handling subsidiary) Premier Lounge. I presume AirNZ closed its lounge in T1 when it moved over to T2 to be next to quarter owner, SQ. Its a far cry from SQ's Silver Kris Lounges, but those at that moment were partially closed for refurbishment and therefore opened exclusively to SQ's pax. That is so typical of SQ! The lounge had a few pastries and and an impressive bar, but the pastels peppered with lurid purples hid a fairly basic facility. It services SilkAir, and I think, the Star Alliance.
First impressions were fairly mixed. The aircraft seemed bright, clean and stylishly done up. The reception by the crew was less enthusiastic. While they appeared to be fairly chirpy, I had to ask for my coat to be taken and no one offered to help me with my bag. I was not personally shown to my seat but instead vaguely shown towards that direction. Luckily I was only in the 2nd row. There was a mix up with my neighbour. He was on my side of the double seats. I guess if the crew were more diligent this would not have happened. I did not really care about that, but neither did the crew. There were abt 5 empty seats in the 24 seat cabin, filled with mature European/NZ couples, businessmen and quite a few Japanese.
Champagne, OJ and mineral water were offered...
-... along with a stylish Danielle Ryman filled amenity kit.
-A very thoughtful touch was a shoe bag placed in the seat pocket. Every airline should take note since most give out socks.
-Headsets were already placed in small storage space in the armrest.
-Newspapers were handed out by hand. No n'paper/magazine trolley was pushed out. A big no-no.
-While taxiing, The Cabin Svs Director came round to each indvidual traveller to introduce himself, welcome us aboard, and offer any help regarding the seat or PTV functions. The delightful junior member of the 3 crew team, Mel, did the same. This was a VERY PLEASANT touch, and AFAIK, unique to AirNZ.
Take off was delayed for abt 15mins. Once airborne, hot towels were distributed; custom forms; menu/wine list.
-Noted that the wine list did not print the labels of the wines! There was just a list with descriptions.
-It was time for drink orders. Due to the seat mix-up, the crew had to clarify who was whom. It was uncomfortable to note, even after sorting that out, the crew deemed that my neighbour's Japanese name and my Chinese one were too difficult to pronounce. This would be the first and last time we would be greeted by name. If SQ crew find little difficulty in pronouncing and remembering the names of 34 European passengers on the upper deck, what was wrong with AirNZ?
45mins later, a refreshing and stylish lunch service was carried out. The menu was as follows...
CLEAR BLACK MUSHROOM SOUP or
tossed salad with a choice of dressings;
EGGPLANT LASAGNE or
prawns, scallops and squid Shanghai noodles or
smoked chicken n camembert focaccia sandwich;
MANDARIN SORBET or
coconut macaroon pavlova.
-The menu was created by a Christchurch restaurant, Micheal's of Canterbury.
-Appetisers were served with GREAT style. Salads were tossed in front of you on the trolley. Soup was mixed on the trolley as well. The ingredients were laid out. Each pax would choose what he/she wanted and it was all mixed with the soup base that was placed in a pot on the trolley.
The next 5 hours were spent napping or catching "Heavenly Creatures" and "the Astronaut's Wife".
The distribution of hot towels signalled the arrival of dinner, and 20mins later, a delicious meal served over an hour and a half commenced.
Menu was as such...
SMOKED SALMON WITH GAZPACHO MAYO;
AGED PRIME BEEF FILLET w/ mustard n cognac sauce or
prawn roulade w/ steamed ginger rice or
spicy citrus duck w/red onion hash;
BAKED LEMON TART or
dark chocolate terrine;
CHEESE N FRUIT.
-The beef was succulently rare and the cheese board impressive.
Nothing much happened during the last hour or so, as the crew left the pax alone to freshen up for arrival n the usual city guide was screened. The atmosphere was relaxed and laconic.
Arrival was a little late, but at that hour, Auckland Airport was pretty deserted. I got my bags which were amongst the first, went thru the usual channels, and was outta the doors pretty quickly.
BITS N PIECES:
The interior was very stylish and modern in shades of dark blue and jade/teal. Everything looked clean n bright. Even though the seats were introduced in '96/'97, they still looked good!
-Biggest gripe is the 2-2-2 configuration on a 767. QF fits a more realistic 1-2-2. After 9 hours, I felt constrained, width wise. The seats were actually a narrower version of the ones found on their 747s.
-Armrests were placed too high. My left arm was numb after a couple of hours of having my body in the reclined position.
-Seat pitch of 50" and recline felt very generous. Adjustable winged headrests were pretty fun too.
-Suede armrests and big square cushions in striped linen were stylish touches.
-My neck did ache after a while, but it does on EVERY plane.
AirNZ's meals were a joy to partake in. Meals were very tasty, and presentation was stylish. They certainly meant it when they boasted a "contemporary brasserie style".
-Wines, selected by Tony Adcock of Auckland's Harbourside Restaurant were excellent. Especially the delicious Aussie dessert wine! The selection, apart from the Champers, was strictly NZ or Oz.
-Crockery was a delightful mix of blue frosted glass or blue china. Very IKEA! They have GREAT coffee cups. Napkins were either sky blue or terracotta linen. Salt rocks and pepper were served in shot glasses - not shakers! Very unique.
-Only the "airplane-sized" cutlery and paper tray lining let the game down. But even that resembled some sort of cane mat. Looked good!
-FOUR delicious breads were offered.
-Snacks of sandwiches, cookies or kumara chips were offered mid-flight upon request.
-Crew patrolled the cabin constantly with a large Evian bottle to keep glasses filled.
-No tiny packets of nasty peanuts. Instead organically grown kumara chips were offered with pre-meal drinks.
Overall, the team of three were quite friendly. They possessed a sense of confidence (unlike SQ) and were relaxed without being too "matey" (how QF suffers).
They did not take things too casually, but lacked a sense of earnesty, respect and formality that airlines such as CX, SQ and AN International have. Mel, the most junior of the team was indeed one of the nicest F/As I'd ever met. The more senior F/A was a bit more dour, but not rude.
-Gripes incuded the lack of attention to detail. Crumbs were strewn on a neighbour when the crew cleared meal trays.
-Before take-off, the crew cleared my champers glass but left the coaster on the armrest.
-The lack of interest in calling each pax by name.
It is still an excellent airline. I'm just being VERY fussy. It would definitely be in my Top 5 (tho' I've not flown EK or VS before). Miles ahead of QF/BA, or any US carrier.
26/35 or 74%