Flight check: London to Chicago on American Airlines

Max Bania flies from the UK to the USA to watch the All Blacks lose to Ireland.

Beauden Barrett in action during the test match between the All Blacks and Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Beauden Barrett in action during the test match between the All Blacks and Ireland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The plane: An American Airlines Boeing 767-300, the aging warhorse of transatlantic travel. This plane has crossed the pond more times than I've had hot dinners.

Class: Economy. Aside from the nostalgia factor of flying on a 30-year-old plane, the only upside to the 767 is the 2-3-2 seating configuration which means you don't have to clamber over as many strangers to reach the aisle.

Price: A return ticket six months ahead of time starts at $1150.

Flight time: Eight hours and 42 minutes with favourable winds.

My seat: 37A, a window seat near the back with adequate leg room.

Fellow passengers: Lots of Ireland rugby fans on their way to Chicago for the All Blacks game. There are a few black jerseys too.

How full: Just about full to its 218-seat capacity.

Entertainment: It might be just about impossible to fathom in the year 2016, but there basically isn't any. No personal electronic screens, no power sockets and certainly no wi-fi. I pass the time by reading a book and wondering which of the flight attendants would be Trump voters, but in this day and age there seems little point even getting on a plane if you can't take a photo of the wing mid-flight and upload it to social media with some wonderfully modest and inventive caption like "how's YOUR Tuesday going? #squadgoals".

The service: Very friendly and indeed humorous. The reputation of US carriers for sullen stewards seems unfounded here; plus they're very liberal with the drinks trolley.

Food and drink: The gold standard of cattle-class cuisine: chicken and mash with steamed green beans, a bread roll, a lettuce and carrot salad, crackers and a chilled apple slice. Washed down with a palate-cleansing Budweiser.

The toilets: The kind of tight and intimidating spaces only Beauden Barrett can negotiate comfortably.

Luggage: 23kg in the hold. I only brought a small bag on board and was grateful as the overhead bins were small.

The airport experience: Chicago O'Hare is an absolute dream compared to LAX and I was through the airport and on a train into town within half an hour. The flight departed from Heathrow Terminal 3, however, which has the ambience of a barn.

Would I fly this again? Not until American kicks its 767 fleet to touch. There is plenty to admire about the 1980s — prawn cocktails, mullets, consistently-successful New Zealand cricket teams — but long-haul planes with primitive entertainment systems aren't one of them.

- NZ Herald

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