Ewan McDonald flies Air New Zealand's NZ678 from Dunedin to Auckland ... eventually.
An A320 — the Suzuki Swift import of the aviation world. Which is my regular ground transport, and these planes are beginning to feel just as tired.
On time: Picture this. Dunedin, Sunday evening, been a loooong weekend, all you want to do is get home. Leave 6.05pm, arrive 7.55pm, grab bag, arrive in Mt Eden around 8.30pm. Then you hear that old "Air New Zealand regrets to advise that due to the late arrival of your aircraft …" thing. Bad weather up and down the country, apparently.
Takeoff 6.40, arrive 8.25. Arrive in Mt Eden about … 'oh, bugger it, I'll dump the case in the hall and sort the washing tomorrow' time.
Class: That one.
Seat: 5F, window. Same as I had coming down on Friday morning. Must be logged into their computer.
How full: Extremely.
Food and drink: Coffee, tea or water; chips or a cookie. Bet that 35-minute delay took us out of Koru Hour when I could have had a red and cheese instead. And they're not cookies, they're biscuits.
Service: Air New Zealand domestic crew. We don't know how lucky we are.
Entertainment: Best to bring your own. If you're on a long weekend away, you can read the latest Kia Ora magazine on the Friday evening flight, which means that on the Sunday evening flight ... I'm engrossed in a serious re-reading of John le Carre's novels, so pass me the tea and biscuit and don't disturb me until I'm over Raglan.
But there's that …Yeah, the new inflight video. The "Kiwi As" one. I'd seen it on the Friday flight south, so I took particular notice of the people around me. Which was more than they did; cue boredom, disinterest, distraction. Sorry, national carrier, there seems to be a disconnect between the people performing in the video and the more mature, more vanilla folks on your flights. And it does seem a rather lengthy exercise in imparting basic information. Don't shoot me, I'm only the reporter.
Price: Leave Auckland Friday morning, return Sunday evening — $655 on the website. Why do Kiwis prefer to fly to Melbourne or Brisbane for a weekend?
Airport experience: It's really cruel that Dundas Airport in Greenland got the DUN code and Dunedin was left with DUD. It's really cruel that Queenstown is like, y'know, the cutesy kitten video of South Island tourist destinations and Dunedin has been cast like, y'know, one of the sisters in the Cinderella story. Let me tell you, though, when your Sunday evening plans have been disarranged by the late arrival etc, etc, the Koru Lounge in Dunners does a stonking platter of roast beef and horseradish, and chicken and mayo sandwiches. Wish the national food and beverage team would lift their game on the cheddar and brie offering — sorry, but it doesn't reflect the best of Kiwi cheese.
Would I fly it again? You ask that as if I have a choice. OK, I do, and I would choose the national carrier over … y'know, the other one. They might be more expensive and they might run late from time to time, but you can rely on them to get you home in some style.