Stephanie Holmes flies Queenstown to Auckland on NZ626.
The plane: Air New Zealand A320D
Class: Economy on a Flexi Time ticket.
Price: Seat fares start from $83.
Flight time: 1 hour 56 minutes and we left more than 20 minutes behind schedule (see below). The pilot was confident we'd make up time in the air, but we ended up having a pretty bumpy ride, which slowed us down.
Airport experience: As is the wont of Queenstown in summer (and winter, spring and autumn these days), the airport was jam-packed. It was slightly chaotic when we got to the gate. The flight departing before ours was due to leave at 4.10pm, but they were still trying to board people at 4.35pm. It had been late to arrive in the first place, then we overheard ground crew talking about a "Katrina malfunction" — the scanner at the gate seemed to be failing to record passengers who had already boarded. There was a lot of back and forth between the ground crew member and her colleagues on board the plane.
She handled everything with calm confidence, but it meant there was a 30-minute delay for that flight, which then impacted on the departure of our flight.
Seat: 28E, second row from the back, in the middle. We couldn't board via the back stairs as it was too windy so we had to fight our way down the plane. By the time we made it to our seats, the overhead lockers were crammed. Quite a few passengers were using them for bags that would fit under seat in front, so we stragglers had to fight for space.
Fellow passengers: The usual multi-cultural, multi-generational mixed bag that flies in and out of Queenstown.
How full: To the gills, with a lot of tired young children expressing their discontent at being cooped up on a bumpy plane.
Entertainment: The turbulence meant the drop down screens were only used for the safety video screening — no trivia quiz to help pass the time.
Service: The crew were friendly and well-presented, but confined to their seats for much of the flight due to the bumps. At drinks service they could only serve water and the light snack, as the captain deemed it too dangerous for hot drink service. But knowing the quality of airline coffee, no one missed anything.
Toilets: There wasn't much chance to use them as seatbelt signs were on for almost the entire flight.
Luggage: Flexi-time tickets allow one checked bag of 23kg, and 7kg hand luggage. I scraped by with just hand luggage.
Would I fly again: Of course. Delays and turbulence are just a fact of a traveller's life.