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Winston Aldworth: A special opportunity

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner demonstrator craft at Auckland International Airport. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner demonstrator craft at Auckland International Airport. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Last week was a special one for jet lovers. The arrival of Boeing's Dreamliner in the skies above New Zealand set planespotters' hearts racing.

For the 787 landings at Auckland and Christchurch, binoculared buffs stood on car rooftops for a better view of the aircraft touted as the future of aviation. Those are the same binoculared buffs who stood on car rooftops in 2008 to see the last aircraft touted as the future of aviation, the A380.

With a striking profile aided by an elegant wing shape and a delta-rippled trim on the engines, many would have thought the Dreamliner more beautiful than Airbus' box-like Superjumbo - but ultimately it presents the same dilemma to any airline that buys it: How many sardines do you put in the can?

The Dreamliner is a special ride. On last week's short hop from Auckland to Christchurch, selected media saw the 787-8 to good effect.

Curved overhead luggage space means less banging of heads, there's mood lighting and tinting windows - of which Boeing are justly proud.

The size of the windows is also markedly bigger (Boeing had helpfully marked on one window where Airbus' portholes fell short: The A380's were merely a large pizza contained within the super-sized XL of the Dreamliner.)

So it's a nice ride. But Air New Zealand is yet to decide on a seating plan.

In fact, some of the key staff who will determine the eventual layout were on last week's introductory flight.

Their challenge will be to avoid the temptation to cram. Most airlines will go for about 230 passengers in a three-class setup, but they could get just shy of 300 in an entirely cattle-class arrangement.

And there's nothing special about that.

* Winston Aldworth is the new editor of Herald Travel.

- NZ Herald

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