Leighton Luke flies Auckland to Perth on Air New Zealand NZ175.

The plane:

A Boeing 787-9.

Class: Business Premier.

Seat: 4K. Eighteen full flatbed seats in a 1-1-1 herringbone configuration. Although the fact that every seat has aisle access is a positive, I'm not a great fan of the herringbone layout and, with the high walls on both sides of the seat, it felt very narrow and confined without the sense of space that should be found when travelling up the front. The low ledge the seats are on is a small but perplexing hazard the first few times one steps down into the aisle. On the plus side, the mattress when the seat was in bed mode was the plushest and comfiest I've encountered on any airline.


Price: From $1449 one way.

Flight time: Just over 6 hours. Enough time to dine, relax and maybe have a quick nap.

On time: Departed right on time from Auckland and almost 30 minutes early getting into Perth.

How full: It was a full flight and, with the narrow layout, felt quite crowded.

Entertainment: A good selection of movies, television programmes, music, games and audiobooks, all of which are available gate-to-gate. It was also good to see a suitably global mix of offerings, from Kiwi to Chinese, French, Spanish and Japanese, reflecting Air New Zealand's range of destinations.

Food and drink: An appropriate selection of drinks across all genres was on offer. Inexplicably, though, Champagne is only served once airborne; an odd little policy. Sadly, when it arrived was a disappointment. The Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Non-Vintage - which ought to have been quite pleasant - was warm. I suspect that it would have been lucky to have had even 10 minutes in the chiller. A reputable, full-service airline like Air New Zealand should not be getting something as basic as that so wrong. Fortunately, the food was delicious and the three-course lunch featured two choices each for entrees and desserts, and three for mains. I chose the grilled prawns for my entree and the roasted pork belly for the main and both were sensational. For dessert, the melted chocolate tart with orange ice cream was outstanding (and generously sized, too).

Service: Cheerful and pleasant but also with a sense of being a little bit under the pump or slightly disorganised. Unfortunately not quite as warm or polished as might be expected.

Baggage: Not bad: up to three pieces in total, each weighing up to 23kg. For cabin baggage, two carry-on bags weighing up to 14kg in total.


WCs: Two standard-size loos up the front. Everything was as it should be but the highlight was definitely the wallpaper in the starboard-side facility. At first glance, it looked like nothing more than a quirky print of butterflies but, upon closer inspection, each of the fictitious species pictured was labelled with its own humorous, aviation-related common and scientific names. I found it all most amusing.

Airport experience: The new Air New Zealand lounge at Auckland is an outstanding space. Large and roomy, with different zones, some tasty food offerings and a great view out over the runway (why do airport lounges rarely offer their patrons a view?), it is a good place to wait for a flight.

Would I fly this again? It was good, but I can't help but feel that it really ought to have been a bit better, even if mine were just classic First World problems. So, subject to that qualification, yes.