Shandelle Battersby flies aboard NZ8736 from Blenheim to Wellington.

The plane:

A Bombardier Q300 with 50 seats, 2x2.

Price: $213 return.


Flight time: 30 minutes, though you're in the air for just 15.

My seat: 6B

How full: The Saturday morning flight was completely full; this one had a couple of empty seats.

Fellow passengers: Locals, commuters, those returning from a weekend break in the region.

On time? No — we were delayed for 1hr 35 minutes which kept shifting as the night went on, as several Sounds Air flights came and went while we waited. When I asked about the delay I was told it was a combination of wind and engineering problems.

The landing: Was hair-raising to say the least. I fly in and out of Wellington a lot (admittedly in an A320 usually) and this was one of the worst landings I have experienced.

Entertainment: This plane is so tiny there aren't any screens for the Air New Zealand quiz.

The service: Cheerful despite the delays.


Food and drink: There's only time for the lolly basket to go around. As compensation for our wait at Marlborough Airport we were given a small bottle of water, a nut bar, a mini packet of chips and a chocolate bar.

The toilets: No time for that!

Luggage: The overhead bins are tight but there is plenty of legroom in the seats of these aircraft. I managed to fit a box of six Moa Brewery craft beers happily under the seat in front of me as well as my handbag. You can check a bag of 23kg and the Fast Bag service normally applies for Elite, Gold and Koru members, though it was unavailable on this day due to the Wellington wind.

The airport experience: The cafe at Marlborough Airport has good wine on the menu and food such as toasted sandwiches and croissants and has a nice little gift shop attached.

You can connect to the local council's Marlborough FreeSpot Wireless network for an hour and the airport now offers a Business Lounge area upstairs with free WiFi and coffee for $20. There are plenty of plugs to charge your devices.

Would I fly this again? Once you're in the air it's great. Plus, it's faster than the ferry. I might look at Sounds Air next time though.