Api Talemaitoga flies from Queenstown to Christchurch on Air New Zealand's NZ646.
Class: There's just one class on here, but GE status allows you to book a seat towards the "pointy end".
My seat: 4D.
Price: $160 for the return fare to Queenstown from Christchurch. I had purchased this fare during an Air New Zealand "24 hour domestic fares sale" several months ago as the dates of the medical meeting I was attending had been set for some time.
On time: We left 15 minutes later than the scheduled departure time of 11.40am due to the poorly organised security checking process at Queenstown airport (see later).
How full: No empty seats. It seemed the last dozen people to board would have to stand in the aisle.
Fellow passengers: A mix of returning conference delegates (there were at least two different health professionals' conferences in Queenstown over the previous three days), local and international holiday crowd, most in streetwear ski-gear and families/couples who had just spent a few crispy days in the beautiful resort town.
Entertainment: (1) Pre-flight: Watching the later passengers come in and trying to cram their bulging carry-on luggage into the fully loaded overhead lockers - I admired the cabin crew who assisted efficiently without fuss and who, with minimal shuffling around of some bags, were able to find space in the overhead bins. (2) In-flight: The Great Air New Zealand Trivia Quiz.
Service: Despite the late boarding, delayed departure, some grumpy passengers and turbulence, cabin crew remained friendly and professional throughout.
Food and drink: Restricted to water and cookie/cassava crisps service due to the turbulence throughout most of the flight.
Toilets: Off limits throughout the flight (due to turbulence).
Airport experience: The newly refurbished Queenstown Koru Lounge is spacious and clean. Just as well, as seating was running out before we boarded due to the imminent departure of several Air New Zealand flights to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and also across the Tasman. Continual supply of croissants, various savouries, cereals and fresh fruit were on hand.
Queenstown airport needs to lift its game in a major way with regards to its poorly organised security screening procedures at the airport. The queues were long and slow and it was confusing whether you were in the domestic or international queue as they were parallel to one another. Several of us were in the queue while the ground staff repeatedly announced that passengers were delaying the flight - but no one came to rescue us out of the queue and the security staff seemed oblivious to the delay it was causing the airline. This also happened the last time I flew out of Queenstown to Auckland.
Would I fly it again? Lovely to get a jet trip to Christchurch instead of the usual ATR "shuttles".