Shandelle Battersby flies from Auckland to Palmerston North aboard Air New Zealand’s flight NZ5115.

The plane:

An ATR 72 twin-engine turboprop, ideal for short-haul regional flights. They seat 68 in rows of 2-2.

Class: Only the one.

Price: $69.


Flight time: One hour and 10 minutes.

My seat: 11A, so great views of a brown Mt Ngauruhoe and Lake Taupo out the window.

Fellow passengers: Mostly solo travellers, a few couples.

How full: A little over half - there was an entirely empty row in front of me and the chap sitting next to me (who'd done his seat belt up before I sat down - why do people do that?) moved so we could both spread out.

Entertainment: Have you discovered the simple T-Rex game that you can play offline on your Google Chrome browser? A kid told me about it. Good to pass the time, while catching up on a few podcasts downloaded the night before.

The service: Very friendly, and always impressive how quickly they serve water, a hot drink and a bikkie, the lollies and clean up the rubbish without appearing to rush.

Pleasant surprise: I've spent a bit of time at Palmerston North Airport over the years and it hasn't changed a lot, but I discovered while waiting for my return flight that there is free Wi-Fi! And it's fast! And there's a really good cafe with views over the runway. Great provincial airport experience.

The toilets: N/A.

Luggage: Bit naughty, using all of my 7kg and then some, plus a big bunch of flowers (which didn't enjoy the flight as much as I did, sadly).

Would I fly this again? I would, but then, with the Whanganui Airport no longer servicing Air New Zealand flights, there's not a lot of choice. Jetstar also flies into Palmerston North, which has made the fares a lot more competitive than a few years ago.