Nicholas Jones flies Air New Zealand from Auckland to LA.

The plane:


Class: Premium Economy


Price: Used the one available upgrade to me via Silver Status. Normally about $2100 each way.

My seat: 27G, on the aisle about midway down the premium economy, which is between business and economy. Reclined back and with a foot rest out front (not unlike a La-Z-Boy), I slept most of the flight.

Fellow passengers: The beaming American couple on the other side of my row said they had upgraded when selecting seats, and had been given a refund on the economy price.

How full: Only 25 passengers, with almost half the seats in the premium section empty.

Entertainment: Nice big screen. Maybe Netflix has set my standards too high but the recent movie selection isn't quite up to that offered by other airlines. Still, shouldn't be a problem finding something to watch.

The service: Excellent and what helps set Air NZ apart.

Toilets: Down the end of the premium economy section. Cruelly curtained off from the economy hordes, they were always free.

Food and drink: For a horrible second I thought the chicken with chickpea salad brought out with a passion fruit and yuzu meringue tart might be the lot. Silly me. It was just the entree. The beef cheek came later.

Breakfast started with fruit salad and yoghurt, a warm croissant, then hot cakes with blueberry and maple syrup. Tasted like business class fare — basically restaurant quality but zapped in a microwave.

Luggage: Two pieces of checked baggage allowed.

The airport experience: Great at Auckland Airport as I also used my one yearly lounge pass as a silver member. Enjoying a Panhead XPA while watching a replay of the All Blacks playing Wales isn't a bad way to wait for a flight.

Bottom line: A great experience and better than I was expecting for Premium Economy.