The plane:

A Boeing 777-300.

Class: Economy.

Price: $478 for two. Airpoints paid $256 of the fares but not for any charges that apply for all tickets. (Airport charges are higher out of Sydney compared with those out of Auckland).


On time? Flight NZ102 was more than 2 hours 30 minutes late leaving Sydney because of severe thunderstorms that morning over the airport.

Flight time: Only 2 hours 35 minutes due to a very strong tail wind.

My seat: 14E. A standard Economy Seat with the usual leg room for my 1.83m (6 feet) tall frame. Comfortable enough to doze a little.

Fellow passengers: The plane was not completely full so my wife and I had three seats.

Usual mix of families and business travellers going from Australia to New Zealand.

The airport: Not too busy but I hate the new automatic check-in system, even though there are now several very helpful assistants to sort out any confusion with automatic seat allocations and printing your baggage tags.

My wife needs a wheelchair, which was available, if arranged beforehand, through the airline. We went to gate 54 — as usual, the farthest gate is given to Air New Zealand — as directed, only to be informed later that the gate had been changed to gate 26 at the other end of the terminal.

Gate 26 has no direct air bridge so we were taken out to the aeroplane by the first bus with all the other elderly passengers, families with small children, and Business Class travellers. We all had to climb the steep stairs, slowly in my wife's case.

Once we were sitting on the plane, there was a thunderstorm over the airport and the buses ferrying out the passengers for our flight were delayed for one and a half hours because of Sydney Airport health and safety requirements for its ground crews.

Service: Air New Zealand flight attendants were most attentive and provided us all with water, and the pilot kept us informed about the lack of progress in loading the remaining passengers as we sat and waited on the plane.

Staff also provided first aid for a coffee burn on the hand my wife had suffered in the airport. They were most efficient in assisting passengers who needed to change their ongoing flights because of the delay in getting to Auckland.

Food and drink: We ordered snacks as we did not pay for meals. You need a credit or debit card these days as you cannot use cash.

Oddities: The takeaway coffee my wife bought in the airport was so hot that it scalded her hand when I moved her wheelchair too quickly.

Toilets: Standard was good and clean.

Entertainment: I only used the flight data show but many options for videos and games were available, and some were free.

Luggage: Only one checked bag to save a few dollars for our short stay in Australia.

Would I fly again? Yes. The Boeing 777-300 was a much more spacious and comfortable plane than the A320 on which we had flown over.