Andrew Turley flies from Auckland to San Francisco aboard Air NZ's NZ8.

The plane:

The tried and true 777-300ER, but the interior is either fastidiously maintained or this plane has had a recent makeover.

The seat: The allocated seat was a cruel joke, but I spent the smartest $39 ever and got myself seat 38H in the skycouch zone. The window seat was booked so we ended up with a spare seat between us. Mine was relatively comfortable, with what feels like genuine lumbar support.


You can't tuck your feet backwards due to the skycouch fold-out, but the middle and window seat share a footwell with nothing in the middle, so score those two seats and you've got something approaching comfortable. I was slightly jealous.

Class: "Economy-Lowest" — you have the worst seat. Welcome to rock bottom. Thanks, Air New Zealand.

Flight time: 11 hours 10 minutes, give or take.

Food and drink: The curry was actually tasty, with what some might say is a little bit of a kick. I've had much worse in the foodcourts of Auckland. Breakfast was 100 per cent as expected. The fruit, the muesli, the yogurt.

Entertainment: I'd obviously spent too long on Singapore Airlines in recent years squinting at their seemingly cash-register grade screens (the ones that switch languages every time they pause your movie to make an announcement) so I was impressed by the decent screens and reasonable interface on this flight. Plug your own headphones in, tap away at the screen and it's all go. Plenty to choose from in the movies and TV sections, and a fairly deep selection of classics to latest releases.

I immediately challenged the classifying of 1987 stone-cold classic The Lost Boys as a comedy, but on rewatching, I begrudgingly admit most films from the second half of the 80s qualify as comedy. Optimistically planning to sleep after that, I chose to go for quick and short — Millen Baird's brilliant Leeway — dry Kiwi humour at its unassuming best.

Service: I don't know whether they work under threat of death, but without fail every Air New Zealand staffer on the plane was polite, friendly and helpful. Even when I uttered the immortal "have you got a pen I could borrow?", nothing but smiles, and a pen!

Toilets: It's small, I don't want to be there, and the velocity of the flush still makes me think I might be sucked out of the plane at any moment.


Airport experience: Boarding the plane felt a bit chaotic, and the staff on the ground had clearly had enough of everyone devising their own rules.

Fair enough, there were some stellar displays of arrogance and ignorance on show at the gate. We're all going to get on the plane, take it easy!

If you're transiting in SFO, seek out SF Uncork'd for a great selection of local and regional craft beer on tap, duelling screens of ice hockey and basketball and decent food for an airport.

Would I take this flight again? Sure, if I was transiting to a regional US flight, I'd always opt for SFO over LAX.