The Plane

A 787-9 Dreamliner.

Class

Economy - had requested a recognition upgrade but premium economy was full.

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Airport experience

Couldn't check in online as Air NZ need to check Chinese Visa is ok before giving you a boarding pass. The construction work at Auckland International terminal seems to have finished and there's a much wider range of shopping and dining options than when I last passed through.
Arrived early and killed two hours in the Koru lounge. First time I've seen a chef there cooking up dishes. Once the USA flights cleared out there was plenty of room. Coffee, dinner, shower, download some podcasts for the flight - that little bit of downtime before a long flight makes all the difference.

My Seat

40D - an aisle seat in the middle row, and no-one next to me.

The flight

Clocks in at just over 12 hours. Air NZ flies direct to Shanghai every day with flights leaving at 11pm which means you arrive at around 7am the next day in the most populous city in the world (25 million and counting). Flight was delayed 25 minutes as passengers came over from a late flight in the domestic terminal. Then waited another 15 minutes for flight paperwork to be signed. Flight got very cold around four hours in, everyone had to rug up and grab their coats from their carry on. Got in about an hour late.

Service

Efficient, but you're pretty much left to yourself. I flew premium economy on the way back and the difference was quite noticeable.

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Entertainment

A good selection as always with Air NZ - including Ben Stiller's excellent Escape at Dannemora - but ended up watching Gloria Bell - billed as a comedy - but is anything but - despite a great performance from Julianne Moore.

How full

I'd say three quarters full in economy - business and premium economy were full.

Food

Dinner was served a couple of hours after take off beef, green beans, salad and a roll - ok. Dessert was Kapiti ice cream. Breakfast was served around and hour and a half before landing - eggs, beans, sausage - fruit and yoghurt.

Verdict

Convenient way of getting to Shanghai and the late departure makes getting some sleep not such an ask. Just pack a coat in your carry on.