Winston Aldworth flies aboard Emirates EK434, from Brisbane to Auckland.

The plane:

An A380. Emirates already has the biggest fleet of these things in the world - there are presently 75 in service and by the end of next year they expect to have taken delivery of another 33. So keep an eye on that direct Auckland-to-Dubai service, which runs a Boeing 777-200LR at the moment.

Last week, they announced they've extended their ultimate order by two more A380s, bringing their eventual fleet to a grand total of 142 super-jumbos.

If you were to put a person in every single seat on every single one of those planes in the eventual Emirates A380 fleet at the same time, they'd be able to carry pretty much the entire population of Palmerston North.


Class: Economy.

Price: You can get into these Economy Class seats for the Auckland-to-Brisbane run for $541 return.

My seat: 44H, towards the front of the Economy Class section. I like the aisle seats in rows 44-41 (the absolute front of the Economy cabin) because instead of a middle block of seats alongside you, you're sitting next to the staircase that leads to First Class - it provides you with a little privacy and, unsurprisingly, there's not too much foot traffic with First Class passengers coming down to mix with the Economy masses. We have a block of three seats - my mum, Heather, has the window and my boy, Baxter, is in the middle.

Flight time: This service is scheduled for a 3hr 15m run, but she often comes in early. It departs at 8.10am and lands at 1.25pm (NZ time) in Auckland. We left on the hooter and got in about 12 minutes early.

Fellow passengers: Some poor souls have come all the way from Europe, transferring to this plane in Dubai, but many are simply Kiwis and Aussies whizzing over the Tasman. These are busy skies.

How full: There are 427 seats in Economy and only a handful are empty. Prices on this service are competitive - they have to be over the Tasman - so the Economy seats fill up.

Service: The Emirates crew often seem very cheery on the Tasman routes - it's one of the shortest gigs on their international roster and many of them enjoy a day off in Auckland afterwards. There's a spring in their step.

One cabin crew member is Janka, who comes from Slovakia - she's friendly and fabulous, and takes a shine to my son, the charming Baxter. That's her in the picture with Baxter. He takes after his dad. You'll know the staff are in good spirits on this run when they get out the instant camera.

Food and drink: Breakfast service is rolled out early in the flight. It's a credit to the industry.

Entertainment: I didn't delve into the films as it's a relatively short haul, though I did catch an episode of the ubiquitous Family Guy. Is there an airline in the world that doesn't carry Family Guy?

Luggage: You're allowed a very generous 30kg in the hold. Ample for our Gold Coast holiday.

The toilets: There are toilets forward of these seats; you have to walk up a couple of steps - they're the same loos the pilots have access to.

The ones on the sides have considerably more space than the standard Economy Class privy. It's worth making the long walk from the back of the plane.

The airport experience: Of the three major east coast Australian airports, I find Brisbane the most pleasant. There are floor-to-ceiling windows with terrific runway views and it doesn't have the in-your-face hard sell of the Sydney duty-free mega-market.

Would I fly this again? In a flash.