Liz Dobson flies NZ90 from Japan to New Zealand.

The plane:

One of the oldest in Air NZ's fleet, a 767-300. Unfortunately, it was the same plane I flew in travelling to Japan a week earlier. You know it's time to retire a plane when the flight attendants spend most of the 11-hour flight apologising for the conditions on board.

Class: Tiny, old-style business class with four rows and 24 seats.

Price: Honda NZ paid as I was attending the Tokyo Motor Show and visiting the company's R&D centre and a factory.

Advertisement

On time? The flight was delayed 30 minutes as the air conditioning stopped working. When it was running again my head was hit with a polar blast. A flight attendant explained it was sweltering hot in economy and offered me another blanket.

My seat: 1K. I picked it myself after sitting at 4A on the flight to Tokyo. The narrow seat reclined slightly and the foot rest could be raised only about 20cm so sleeping was fitful, which meant work the next day was a struggle, not only for me but for my colleagues, too.

Fellow passengers: A fellow motoring writer and the boss of Mazda NZ, Honda NZ's general manager, a general manager of Toyota NZ and two of his colleagues. All seated in the two rows behind me. For an overnight flight. There's being close with your contacts and then there's knowing their sleep patterns and morning rituals. Press conferences with Toyota, Honda and Mazda will never be the same again.

How full? The seat next to me was taken, unfortunately, by an armrest hogger, who spent the night knocking my arm if I even attempted to place it next to his.

Entertainment: Only pull-out screens in the chair arm that had to be stored for takeoff and landing, plus a limited line-up of movies and TV shows. Fine if you're flying to Australia, poor for long-haul flights.

The service: Having flown extensively in the past few years on many different airlines, I have to commend the staff. Sure, they win bonus points for keeping me topped up with Mumm Champagne, but they were also some of the most attentive and friendly Air NZ crew I've encountered. I also felt sorry for them as they had the business-class style seats in the crew quarters so they had little sleep themselves.

Food and drink: I opted for the Japanese dinner of beef on rice, not a Peter Gordon meal, and needed a cheese platter to fill up. Breakfast of poached eggs was impressive.

The toilets: The crew did the best they could with old facilities, but they were just like in economy.

Advertisement

Luggage: My suitcase broke on the flight to Japan, but I scored two bargain hard suitcases in the Ginza shopping area of Tokyo that I filled with other shopping bargains plus press kits from the motor show. On board, I had a large weekend bag plus my handbag.

The airport experience: The check-in staff were extremely friendly and some of the fastest I've encountered - unlike the security staff who decided a heavily pregnant woman and an elderly lady ahead of me needed patting down, holding up the line for 10 minutes. There was a choice of three AMA lounges in the terminal, so we opted for the one next to our gate. In the lounge you could have a noodle meal made to order, plus there were massage chairs.

Would I fly this again? It's time to say sayonara to the 767-300.