Tracey Bond flies from Auckland to Apia, Samoa, aboard NZ296.
The plane:

A Boeing 777-200 - one of the newer planes in the fleet.

Price: Economy Class fares start from $279. The airline has six non-stop flights to Samoa from Auckland each week.

On time: Yes. It takes three hours and 25 minutes to get to the Samoan capital.

My seat: 49E. I had the "Works" package.


Fellow passengers: A mixture of Kiwis heading off on holiday, Samoans off to see family and friends and young athletes on their way to the Commonwealth Youth Games, which were being held in the capital last September.

How full: Pretty full because the Games opening ceremony was that night. There was just one row empty at the back, which was reserved for crew members.

Entertainment: The full suite of Air New Zealand games, television shows and movies, including the latest blockbusters and a selection of black and white classics (there was enough time to watch a couple of old movies, including the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still).

Food and drink: This was an early morning flight so breakfast was a choice of cereal or eggs. Full bar service was available. We were at the back of the plane and there were no eggs left by the time the food service got to us, but an awesome stewardess nabbed pancakes from Business Class for us.

Luggage: Normal luggage allowances for Air New Zealand of 23kg and this flight didn't seem to have an overabundance of passengers trying to cram the overhead lockers with hand luggage.

The toilets: Tastefully decorated with chandelier wallpaper and decked out with Antipodes hand wash.

The airport experience: It was a Saturday morning and the self-service check-in area was a little bit chaotic - there was some sort of queuing system for the machines but several were out of service or unable to print baggage labels so it turned into a bit of a free-for-all. After similarly long queues at immigration (Smartgate didn't seem to be operating) there was barely enough time for last-minute emergency holiday shopping (because you always need another bikini) before it was time to get on the flight.

Would I fly this again: Less than four hours from rainy Auckland to a tropical paradise? Where do I sign up?