Jason Reeves flies aboard Air New Zealand's NZ5005 from Auckland to Napier
Price: Really good. We managed to fly from Auckland to Hawke's Bay and back for less than $300 for two adults, one child and one infant. Gotta love booking waaaay in advance.
Flight time: We were delayed by about 30 minutes because after a quick head count, the crew realised we had more people on board than we should have, and it turned out somebody had accidentally boarded the wrong flight. I had to laugh though because they made an announcement saying "you know this flight's going to Hawke's Bay, right?
Anybody not going to Hawkes Bay should let the cabin crew know." Nothing happened.
Nobody stirred. Nobody seemed concerned.
Then they name-checked the passenger who then realised they in fact weren't meant to be on that particular plane. I felt sorry for them, but also laughed because I imagine that sort of thing must happen all the time at those regional flight gates at the end of the airport.
Our seats: 8A, 8B and 8C. Our 4-year-old, Max, had the window seat, while my wife, Louise, and I sat either side of the aisle and took turns at "wearing" our toddler, Olly, with the infant belt. Plenty of room, thankfully no issues and the kids travelled OK. Which is never a foregone conclusion, and something for which we are always grateful.
Fellow passengers: A mix of young families, older people, solo travellers and pairs. A typical Saturday flight to a beautiful part of the country.
How full: Pretty full. But then we were one less when we took off!
Entertainment: We always bring our own (we travel with kids) but I always really enjoy a flick through the Kia Ora magazine on board.
The service: Always top class. The pilots and flight attendants kept everyone up to date with the reasons for the late departure and made sure we had everything we needed. They asked if there was anything they could help Louise and I with for the kids, offered pillows to them, offered to help with buckling the infant belt and simply couldn't have been friendlier.
Food and drink: Again, we took enough supplies to make sure the kids were "distracted" but the crew offered us water, tea, coffee and extra biscuits before the time-honoured lolly basket was brought through.
The toilets: Thankfully we didn't have to use them.
Luggage: We checked in a couple of bags and took the nappy bag and a backpack on board. When we got to Napier there were no delays and after all the greeting hugs, our bags actually beat us to the baggage area.
The airport experience: Auckland was busy. But then it always is, especially on a wet, Saturday when there are lots of people trying to get away for the weekend. But the staff were friendly and helpful as always and happily chatted with our boys as they scanned their boarding passes (which made the boys feel very cool). It's the little things that matter.
The bottomline: We try to get to Hawke's Bay to see the family as often as we can, and we always have a fantastic time with Air New Zealand. We booked early and got a great fare, the delay ended up being quite funny and - once again - the weekend seemed to flash by way too fast.