Mark Taylor flies from Palmerston North to Auckland on Air New Zealand's flight NZ5122.
: An ATR72.
Class: The only option, Economy.
Price : My weekend in Manawatu cost just $176 return.
Flight time : 1hr 10m.
My seat : In the middle of the plane, 9C.
Fellow passengers : Sixty-seven of Manawatu's finest — it was a full aircraft.
The flight : Boarding such a small plane is refreshingly quick; in a matter of minutes the plane was loaded, the safety briefing had started and we were taxiing to the runaway. The pilot informed us there was a bit of weather around, turbulence was likely and they would get back to us with an updated arrival time. After 15 minutes in the air we were informed there would be no hot drink service, so I ate my delicious fudge sans beverage. The rest of the flight was uneventful aside from a bit of turbulence to keep the cups of tea in their pots.
Entertainment : A couple of podcasts and the Kia Ora magazine.
Flight Check: Flying from Auckland to Shanghai with Air New Zealand
Arrival : Outside the terminal we saw the normal hive of activity, then the pilot boomed in again informing us there was an electrical storm coming and we had to stay in the aircraft until it passed. I watched the neighbouring plane's passengers walk calmly past us and towards the terminal. No sooner did the last person disappear into the tunnel, than wind, rain, thunder and lightning hit hard. The ground staff scrambled into the tunnel.
Passenger 9D and I agreed: good call, Air New Zealand, let's stay here and have that cuppa. Forty minutes passed before we could disembark. It wasn't an ideal way to spend a Sunday night, but better than getting hit by lightning.
The service : Excellent, always well-informed and the staff identified a passenger with a tight connecting flight and ensured he got off first.
Final word : Safety first. I got home a little late but was dry and electric shock-free.