Michael Burgess flies VA74, from Samoa to NZ

The plane:


Class: Economy.


Seats: 19C and 15F of a three-three configuration. We were unable to sit together, as the flight was "very full". Curiously, once on the plane there appeared to be more than a smattering of free spaces, including middle seats next to me and my girlfriend. Decent leg room, but a narrow aisle caused some Twister-esque manoeuvres during journeys to the bathroom.

On time: Yes.

Flight time: It's scheduled for 3h 50m flying time.

Fellow passengers: Mostly Samoans, with about one third Kiwis, and a few Americans, Australians and Europeans. We enjoyed speculating about the cost of an Italian couple's Louis Vuitton luggage (three bags) as we waited to check in.

Luggage: Plenty of room in the overheard compartments and our suitcase arrived swiftly at the other end.

Entertainment: No screens, but not really needed on a short night flight, although plenty of passengers watched movies on iPads or phones. Virgin's inflight magazine provided some good quizzes, puzzles and reading, including Jamie Oliver's letter to his younger self and a piece about the "Sake Guy" John Gaunter, who is the foremost non-Japanese expert on their sacred drink.

Toilets: Two at the front and another pair at the rear, though the front stalls were ostensibly for Business Class.

Airport experience: Swift, despite the large groups of locals farewelling loved ones. Some decent fare in the modest retail outlets and I enjoyed an excellent, freshly cooked fish burger from Aggies Bar, which had a decent range of quick fare at reasonable prices (especially compared with the daylight robbery at Auckland airport).

Food: My in flight "meal" consisted of a packaged muffin, a muesli bar, a mini-Mars bar and a small packet of cashews. It felt like a dinner menu designed by a 13-year-old boy. It gave me some laughs, if not nutrition. But I was too tired and the staff looked too busy, to bother querying it.

Would I fly again: Yes, but I would be more insistent about sitting together, rather than taking the word of both the check-in person and the gate staff that there was "nothing else available".

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