Tim McCready travels from Auckland to Brisbane on Air New Zealand 739.
One of Air New Zealand's Airbus A320-232s. My plane was 15 years old — you could tell from the fitout that it wasn't one of the airline's newest, but it was very tidy. The flight was full, aside from a couple of empty middle seats.
The airport experience: Auckland Airport is in the midst of a major redevelopment — it feels as though the airport experience changes every few weeks. Although the departure terminal was a construction zone, you could see behind the plastic drop sheets that the transformation will see it become a real feature for the airport.
There was no queue whatsoever for the Air New Zealand bag drop, and customs and security were seamless. I was let loose in duty-free within minutes.
My seat: Having a window seat over the wing meant I had a very smooth flight across the Tasman, despite warnings from the flight deck that we could be in for a rough ride. The seat was comfortable, and the tray tables seemed larger than others I've experienced on the same route or on most long-haul economy flights. I had a fair amount of work to get done, so the space was appreciated.
We departed about 30 minutes late, after waiting for the late arrival of a few passengers from a connecting flight — but we landed just ahead of the scheduled time. I have been on the other side of that situation before, which makes it hard to hold it against the airline when you eventually see a handful of very relieved, sweaty people clambering down the aisle. With no headwind, our total time in the air was just under three hours.
Food and drink: I travelled with The Works option, and was given the choice of honey soy chicken with rice or a beef casserole with roast potatoes. I chose the beef — which according to a colleague on the flight (who described the chicken as "very oily"), was a wise decision. The meal was substantial, especially for a 4pm departure where it felt too late for lunch but too early for dinner. The meal came with Kāpiti ice cream. Although I love their icecream , the flavour was their latest summer creation: Chamomile and Salted Kāmahi Honey. I'm not a fan of chamomile, nor a strong honey flavour, and I found it very sweet. The most awkward thing on flights where you have an optional meal upgrade, is when the person sitting next to you hasn't upgraded. My neighbour in the middle seat found herself in the unfortunate position of being wedged between people eating meals, and had to have the crew explain politely why this wasn't an option for her.
Although there were a reasonable number of older films on board, the recent releases felt light. I got halfway through
(the premise wore thin after 20 minutes), and
Leave No Trace
(lost my attention), before settling on
One Hour Photo
— a Robin Williams classic I hadn't seen since digital cameras became ubiquitous (the movie has dated incredibly quickly).
The bottom line: Air New Zealand does these transtasman flights well.