Eli Orzessek answers queries on economy seating and bringing kava back from Fiji.
We are going to Los Cabos and unfortunately it's close to LAX, which I guess has to be endured to achieve the objective.

Regarding Auckland to LAX, can you advise on who has the greater economy seating space - American Airlines or Air New Zealand?

Ah LAX, everyone's favourite airport huh? Now that you've accepted the inevitable, here are your options for seating - and they're looking quite similar.

If you travel with Air New Zealand, you'll be on one of its Boeing 777-300s, which contain 244 economy seats. The pitch (the distance between the back of your seat and the back of the seat in front) of these seats is 32 to 33 inches. The width of the seat is 17.1 inches.

Pitch doesn't quite equate to legroom, but it gives a good idea of how much space to expect.

With American Airlines, you'll be travelling on one of the new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, which have a smaller economy section than Air NZ at 143 seats. The pitch of the seats is slightly smaller, at 31 inches, but the width can be slightly greater at 17-18 inches.


Although there isn't much difference in terms of seat size, Air New Zealand also offers the new Economy Skycouch on some seats for an additional cost. Basically, you purchase a row of three seats which can be used as a flexible space to suit you.

If any readers have any feedback on these flights to help Brian make his decision, feel free to send it through for next week's column.

I'm going to Fiji for a holiday in a month and I'm hoping to try some authentic kava. I've had the stuff from packets you can buy in some dairies, but I was thinking of bringing some back. What are the rules about this? Is it okay to bring kava that's been freshly ground at the markets, or even the whole root itself?

After a bit of fruitless online research, I contacted the Ministry of Primary Industries(MPI) to find the answer. Here's what I was told by a spokesman:
"Travellers must declare any kava products they bring into New Zealand. MPI may choose to inspect the product for any insects or other contaminants depending on the circumstances. Ground kava is normally okay, as long as it is free from contamination. Any plant material that is propagable (e.g. fresh roots) is not permitted without an import permit. Any material that is obviously contaminated will have to be treated before it can enter New Zealand."
And for what it's worth, I brought a couple of bags of ground kava back when I visited Fiji - declared it at Customs and had no issues. It's definitely stronger than the stuff you get here as well! Drink up, relax and don't forget to clap.
Readers respond
In my last column of 2016, I answered a question about bringing sake into New Zealand from Japan. While a spokeswoman from Customs informed me that it was classed as a wine, former Customs officer Roger Sai Louie wrote in to say this was wrong.
"If you refer to the Customs Tariff Classification Website you will find that sake is classified as other fermented beverages and attracts excise duty at $51.795 per LPA (litre of proof alcohol).
Sake's LPA is normally between 18 per cent and 20 per cent Therefore the advice you have given him/her will only get him/her into trouble at the border. I don't know who your "friends at Customs" are but their advice is definitely incorrect and should be retracted without delay."
However, I'm not sure that it was clear enough in the original question and answer that it was relating to New Zealand Customs' personal concession of duty free alcohol: three bottles of spirits and 4.5 litres of wine or beer. Of course, any greater quantity will be subject to duty.

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