Tony and Selena Reid fly NZ045 from the Cook Islands to New Zealand.

The plane:

An old-school Boeing 747-400, on Air New Zealand's last Boeing 747-400 service from the Cook Islands before retirement last month.

Class: Business for Tony (using a free recognition upgrade). Cattle-class for his pregnant wife Selena.

Price: A bargain - $400 return on Grabaseat (business class starts at $1300 return).


On time? We're 10 minutes late leaving Rarotonga as passengers (us included) take selfies outside the plane, marking the end of an era. Airport workers and locals wave us off as the big bird makes its final departure from the Cook Islands. We make up the difference and land at Auckland Airport ahead of time into a cold and rainy night.

My seat:
He said - 4K. As far up the front as I'll ever get. 4K!

She said - 54C. The economy cabin is dated and my seat is well-worn. In a Princess and the Pea moment, I swear I can feel the metal bars through what's left of the seat cushions and silently curse my husband who I suspect is lounging in comfort in Business Class.

Fellow passengers:
He said - A few seasoned-looking business class travellers, and one well-seasoned passenger, literally. He kept peppering farts up the front! There is karma after all, says my wife.

She said - An eclectic mix of families and oldies, all very chatty and relaxed after a break in the Cook Islands.

How full?
He said - Only two free seats up here. Ahem, I mean it was completely full - no room for wifey.

She said - At capacity with no spare seats in sight. No mean feat given the B-747 seats over [350] passengers.

He said - The trumpet concerto coming out of someone ... and the recent Muppet movie, starring Ricky Gervais. Nice headphones up here.


She said - A diverse variety of new releases and classics. Having seen many of the new releases, I embrace my inner-kid and settle into the new Muppets movie and an entertaining (but slightly odd) documentary about turning Green Day's American Idiot album into a Broadway musical.

He said - Excellent. "Mr Reid this" and "Mr Reid that". I could get used to this life.

She said - Efficient. Despite the full cabin, I'm offered water, tea and coffee at regular intervals.

Food and drink:
He said - Champagne to start, then a gin, and some damn fine pinot noir. Three-course meal, designed by Peter Gordon, and devoured by me using real cutlery.

She said - A cream-cheese bagel and an OJ purchased from the food trolley. Plus two after-dinner mints smuggled out of business class by Tony. He's a keeper. Not.

He said - Heated seat ... just kidding. Functional.

She said - Minimal queues, even with a full flight.

He said - All the Business Class benefits, although unnecessary for the man who travelled with togs, snorkelling gear and a copy of The Luminaries (which I finally finished).

She said - Economy allows 20kg in the hold and the standard carry-on allowance.

Airport experience:
He said - The lounge was full to bursting. In fact, they were turning people away. We managed a seat in the corner.

She said - Pretty chilled with a man playing a ukulele to the masses in the departure lounge. We ducked into a very-full Koru Lounge for a hot shower to wash off the last of the sand and sunscreen before boarding our flight back to Auckland.

Would I fly this again?
He said - I would but I can't. It's the end of the 747.

She said - Yes, but I want the upgrade next time.