Eli Orzessek flies on a private Air Chathams' flight from Auckland to Tauranga.

The plane:

A Fairland Metroliner III, owned and operated by Air Chathams.

On time: Right on time

My seat: 9C, in the second row before the back of the plane. There are two rows of seats with an aisle in between, so everyone gets a window seat.


Fellow passengers: It was a charter flight, so all the other passengers were media or PR people. We were all on our way to see Tiki Taane perform his new single, No Place Like Home, so spirits were high.

How full: Nearly completely full, except for two no-shows.


Well, there certainly weren't any screens embedded into the backs of the seats. A couple of magazines were in the seat pocket, along with a very cute motion sickness bag that appeared to date back to the 1960s. I was very entertained by this "Sic-Sac". But the real entertainment was out the window, as we soared over the majestic Bay of Plenty coastline. Unfortunately, ropey weather conditions meant we could not fly over active volcano White Island, which I imagine would have been a spectacular experience.

Food and drink: There isn't enough room to wheel a food service cart down the aisle on this little plane. I snacked on some trail mix from my goody bag.

The toilets: There were no toilets. Even though it was a short flight, I made the mistake of not visiting the bathroom beforehand and suffered for part of the journey as a result.

Luggage: Air Chathams' passengers are entitled to 23kg, but I just had a small backpack suitable for a day trip.

The airport experience:

Good old Auckland Domestic. I was glad to see a Dunkin' Donuts had opened down the regional end of the terminal. I also had a nice chat with the woman working at the nearby coffee cart about pilots and how they walk with such swagger. Tauranga Airport was a brief encounter and I spent most of my time in the bathroom - see above.

Would I fly this again: Definitely - it was a pretty unique experience.