Alexander Robertson flies from Palmerston North to Auckland aboard NZ5110.

The plane:

ATR 72-500. It's like a pencil with wings.

Class: Cattle.


On time: Like clockwork! However, if there was going to be a sole passenger responsible for any delay, I'd have to swallow the shame and put my hand up as my big, fat, black carry-on bag — filled with camera gear to capture my final destination of East Arnhem Land — couldn't fit in the overhead compartment. Luckily the hostess, Violet, found a quick solution and gave me two seats for the price of one.

My seat: 14A on the left of the plane, with a clear unobstructed view of the long white cloud on the day. No sign of Mt Taranaki popping its head through, sadly.

Price: One-way Seat fares from $53.

Fellow passengers: From kids to grannies. Corporates sharing business they've been doing over the week in a place called Palmydise. And two ladies who harassed me more than usual for having a moustache. They said I looked like a character off a TV series called Poldark. To this day I still don't know if that's good or bad.

How full: Almost full with options to move away from your neighbour if they breach the middle seat line. Fits 68 earthlings with 51 on board.

The service: Superb, second to none. Warm, extremely helpful, professional and most important, relaxed. They had everyone nestled in and refreshed within minutes of takeoff.

Food and drink: The first refreshment was chilled mineral water from a recyclable plastic glass, the hydration choice of all mile-high club members while you zoom through lower jet streams. The next course was a delicious coffee with hints of Kenyan something, I like to have mine black for a true caffeine attack. The main snack was a milk chocolate butterscotch Cookie Time cookie, slightly larger than a watch face. And for dessert, a classic, hard, pink Air New Zealand sweet, to freshen the breath for arrival.

Toilets: I stay well away from this department unless nature calls. I'm sure it was clean, confined and exciting to get out off.


The airport experience: There's something about the regions in the way that they make the process to check in and board so relaxing. I took full advantage of this as I knew the beasts of Auckland and Melbourne airports are coming.

Would you fly this again: I'd even pay to go back on this flight.

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