Matt Brown flies from Auckland to Los Angeles aboard AA82
A Boeing 787-8.
Luggage: Two x 32kg checked plus 7kg of hand luggage.
Check in: Dramatic! Upon arrival I was told I "wouldn't be flying today" unless I get an ESTA for the United States. The UK travel agent who had booked my flights to Montreal said I wouldn't need one for the United States because I was only in transit for a few hours. I should have checked. I raced down to Flight Centre, who organised the ESTA for $70. I was too flustered to try to do it myself online for $40. After the drama at check-in I received a bonus, a slightly better Economy seat near the front of the cabin. AA call the first few rows of Economy "main cabin extra", and yes the leg room was good, much better than what looked to be very cramped in the rest of Economy.
Airport experience: After my drama at check-in, I headed through immigration past the duty-free area to the Emperor Lounge. I had recently joined Priority Pass, an airline lounge programme that gives cardholders access to more than 1000 lounges worldwide.
Some international airlines use the Emperor Lounge in Auckland so the standard, while not top notch like the Emirates or Air New Zealand lounges, is pretty good, with a range of food and drinks on offer.
Boarding: Very smooth, the 787-8 only has capacity for 230 passengers so it was quick getting on to the plane. We left 10 minutes after schedule at 1.10pm.
Flight time: 11 hours 35 minutes. It's always quicker going west to east and we arrived in LA around half an hour ahead of schedule at 5.35am.
Service: This was the first time I had flown internationally with American. I had flown domestically with them before and had not been impressed. Grumpy flight attendants, poor service - like most of the American domestic carriers. However the crew on AA82 were superb as they dealt with a mid-flight drama thanks to me. About five hours into the flight I took half a sleeping tablet and fell asleep resting my head against the large, warm window. I woke three hours later feeling dizzy, lightheaded, soaked in sweat and feeling like vomiting. The flight attendants could not have been more helpful, providing me with a ventilator for breathing, an extra large pillow and a ginger lemon drink from Business Class. I soon started to feel better and was later told the vibration on the window was probably the cause of my ills.
Earlier, I had been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, choosing a tasty teriyaki chicken dish for the main course and chocolate mousse for dessert. In the middle of the flight the crew brought around warm paninis and Kapiti icecream while we had the choice of a cooked breakfast or fruit and pastries for before landing. Plus the towels were piping hot.
Entertainment: Very good, a choice of dozens of movies. I watched a psychological thriller called the Berlin Syndrome, while for $27 you could have Wi-Fi for the entire flight, which I used, and it was fast and reliable.
Fellow passengers: Mainly Americans who were returning from holidays in New Zealand, and a smattering of Kiwis.
Verdict: I wouldn't hesitate to take this flight again. From this month AA will be bringing in a new plane - the larger 787-9, which will also offer Premium Economy seating.
Leaving at 1pm is perfect for connecting with the East Coast of the US or Canada.