Glenn Hart flies aboard flight NZ288 from Shanghai to Auckland.
A Boeing 787-9.
Price: As a guest of Huawei NZ, I have absolutely no idea — lots?
My seat: 2J
Fellow passengers: I was travelling with the Huawei orientation team.
How full? Full.
Entertainment: The touch screen's stowed position is up against your shoulder. As it has to be stowed during taxiing, take-off and landing, by the end of the safety video I already had a stiff back from twisting around to watch. The self-indulgent Air NZ safety videos are about 15 minutes too long, so that didn't help. A good range of movies, TV and music, with the ability to add items to your Favourites List so you can come back to them later. No on-board Wi-Fi — panic! No social media for 12 hours! (Actually, it was a relief.)
The service: I was worried when they got my first drink order wrong. I also got someone else's coffee, but an attendant was right there when I needed him to help me figure out how to put my crazy bed away. More on this later.
Food and drink: Water, juice or bubbles before the flight, along with hot towels. Again, because the table starts out stowed, you're restricted to a small "cocktail table" which pops out of the dividing partition even further behind you than the entertainment screen.
Nuts. Oh, actual nuts before the main meal — I went with the burger, which arrived deconstructed for those who don't like all the fillings. Not sure what happened to the dessert and cheese listed in the menu. I was never offered it. Breakfast was fruit, then a choice between scrambled eggs, french toast or congee. All boring but filling.
The toilets: Surprisingly cramped with very dim lighting. Nice and clean though.
Luggage: I travel pretty light.
The airport experience: As massive as Pudong International is, I didn't find it crowded, although getting to check-in proved comically challenging when a travelator decided to change direction halfway between floors. The queues at Business Class check-in and security were short and the China Air executive lounge was fairly quiet.
The bottom line: This is only my second Business Class flight, but I have to say I'm quite disappointed with the seat configuration. Due to the low dividers and the fact the seats face into the row there's very little privacy and every time I looked up I seemed to be staring straight at one of my fellow passengers. Of all the illogical seat-design features (and there are many), surely the most odd is that the seat doesn't recline to lie flat, the back folds forward. In what upside-down world was that ever going to be a good idea?
You then have to unroll a separate mattress. I'm not licensed to drive such an insane device, as comfortable as the final result turned out to be. I drifted off wondering what drug-addled mad genius would devise a seat you have to get off, to sleep on.