Donut-lover Eric Crampton flies aboard Air New Zealand's flight NZ445 going from Auckland to Wellington.
Airbus A320 — the workhorse of the Auckland-Wellington commute.
On time: Nope. Half-hour late. Wish I'd had notification of it on the app a bit earlier. Auckland Airport now has a Krispy Kreme, and I almost didn't get doughnuts to bring back to the Wellington doughnut desert. I thought I'd be late to the gate. I risked it but was nervous. I needn't have worried at all.
My seat: 17D on the aisle. Far enough back that you board through the rear after a walk on the tarmac; close enough to the front that you get to wade through people who entered through the wrong door.
But ample room under the seat for my laptop bag and two boxes of donuts — one for the office, one for home.
Price: On a short-notice booking, that one's $233.
Fellow passengers: Mixed set. A lot of business commuters like me, but also a fair few who looked as if they were on their way home after a long weekend in Auckland. A young woman in my row was excitedly chatting on the phone about having had a job offer to be a biosecurity dog handler at Auckland Airport — congrats to her.
How full: A bit more than 5/6 full — one empty seat in most rows.
The service: It's easy to forget how good we have things here. There was nothing remarkable about this service, but that's only because service is uniformly good.
Food and drink: The dinner-time flight has wine and cheese. Everybody complains that there aren't enough crackers for the amount of cheese they give you, but they're all mad. The cracker is only there to hold the cheese. The higher the cheese-to-cracker ratio, the better. And I love that Air New Zealand's got Emerson's beer on those flights now — their Kolsch, Shark Bell, went very well with the cheese.
Toilets: It would take a longer flight than Auckland to Wellington to have me checking those out.
The airport experience: Again, we don't know how lucky we are in this country. The queue at security was maybe eight minutes long because they had a trainee on my line, and that felt like a long time, but it's so much worse in North America — and humiliating.
And Auckland airport now has a Krispy Kreme! I moved to New Zealand in 2003. I had been waiting all this time for there to be a Krispy Kreme. Flying back to Canada a few years ago, I cleared customs in Sydney from the international transit lounge for the sole purpose of getting those donuts. The border guard didn't seem to understand when I listed "donuts" as my reason for entering Australia. After the first Krispy Kreme opened in Auckland, I convinced my Uber driver to route me back to the airport via the drive-through. Now we don't even have to do that — just get the donuts at the airport. After 15 years of waiting, I can have Krispy Kreme again.
Would I fly this again?
Sure. Air travel in New Zealand is as good as it gets — sane versions of security, reasonable queues, donuts at the airport and a great beer on the flight home. Who could ask for more?