Helen van Berkel flies to the Chatham Islands with Air Chathams.

The plane:

A Convair 580.

Class: There is only one: turn left at the door and you'll end up in the cockpit.

Price: $385, one way, and $281 for kids.


Flight time: Two hours but varies according to the wind.

On time: No. Fog in the Chatham Islands had delayed the plane's inbound flight. Safety regulations determine the weather envelope in which planes can fly depending on, among other things, distance from another airport - the Chathams' nearest is Napier more than 1000km away - so flights are very much weather dependent. Fortunately, our plane was full of people rather than freight so the turnaround was faster.

My seat: Second row. Don't be puzzled when the flight attendant says "the emergency rows today are". Seats are removed according to how much freight is onboard.

Fellow passengers: A tour group of mainly older couples, one or two locals and several polished and manicured men who seemed to be on some kind of entrepreneurship course.

My companion: I sat next to an older-looking man wearing a Chathams ID badge, who said he was a pilot for the airline. I quizzed him for the inside gen of our flight and then asked: So who owns Air Chathams? He smiled modestly and replied: "I do."

How full: All the seats were taken.

Entertainment: Listening to the men talk about how entrepreneurial they were. And then chatting with Craig Emeny about his passion for planes and how he and his family - he was passionate about them too - had carefully nursed their fledging airline to its fleet of Convair 580s, a Douglas DC-3 and a Fairchild Metroliner. Food and drink: The usual coffee, tea and biscuits.

The toilets: Just the one. No fancypants hand creams here, just Dettol hand sanitisers.

Luggage: 20kg.

The airport experience: We were greeted by a local's curly-haired black dog and waited while the bus driver, changed a flat tyre.

Would I fly this again: Yes. Air Chathams also does the DC3 flight to Whakatane, which looks a lot of fun.