Grant Bradley flies NZ499 - 'The Nightrider'.

The plane:

Boeing 737-300. The long-serving workhorse of Air NZ's domestic fleet.

Class: Just the one - economy.

Price: $29 plus credit card surcharge.


On time? Early - we pushed back just before the scheduled 10pm departure time and were off the plane at our destination just before 11pm.

My seat: 12F, prime emergency exit row with ample leg room. Luck-of-the-draw allocation at automatic check-in, for which I didn't pay a fee.

Fellow passengers: Very much leisure, visiting friends and relatives market, not a suit in sight.

How full? Almost chokka. About half a dozen of 133 seats empty.

Entertainment Old school. There was a bumper Hobbit-themed in-flight magazine and a few screens that folded down from above the seats which showed the clever Hobbit-themed safety video. Air New Zealand's new safety video is at least watchable, unlike anything featuring Richard Simmons.

The service: Three attendants didn't have a lot to do. Some useful advice about the next day's Hobbit premiere when we landed.

Food and drink: As was explained, the airline wants to keep Nightrider fares down, so refreshments are limited to just a boiled sweet before landing.

The toilets: Fine.


Luggage: Hand luggage included in my fare, but 7kg weight limit strictly enforced.

Would I fly this again? At that price, absolutely.

Grant Bradley paid for his own ticket.