Patrick McKendry flies aboard Air New Zealand's flight NZ175, from Auckland to Perth.
: B787-9 Dreamliner.
Class : Economy — I was on a Works ticket, so I got a couple of meals and movies.
Flight time : 7.5 hours — left on time, landed on time. Two big ticks right there.
My seat : 47K — window on right side.
Price : There's a sale running until October 8 in which you can get Economy Class, one-way tickets from Auckland to Perth for $500, for travel on selected dates.
Fellow passengers : Mainly middle-aged and slightly older folks, plus the Black Ferns rugby squad and the large figure of 116kg All Blacks prop Nepo Laulala. Reassuringly, the Black Ferns were all seated up front, along with big Nepo, who paced the departure gate area nonchalantly before joining the back of the queue after a couple of boarding announcements.
How full : Very, but mercifully there was an empty seat between me and my row partner, a woman who was clearly just as happy as I was with the arrangement.
Entertainment : It's a fair haul across the lucky country, so I watched two or three movies. I can remember only one: Fighting With My Family, a true wrestling yarn featuring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson which I enjoyed more than I expected. There were various other things I could have watched, so no problem with the variety.
Flight Check: Flying Air NZ's first Auckland-Invercargill service
Toilet facilities : Used once and all fine apart from the fact I squirted soap directly on to my shoes. Still, at least the dispenser was full.
Food and drink : This flight leaves at 10.50am, so by the time lunch rolled around I was fairly peckish. I went for the beef casserole, mashed potatoes, carrots and celery, which was pretty good. It came with cheese and crackers and ice cream — all demolished at a good clip. One of the few snags of the service was the beer choice; no craft beer was available despite the rising popularity of more niche brewers in New Zealand, most of which are excellent. The choice was a local mainstream lager and one from Belgium. I went for two glasses of pinot noir. Afternoon tea consisted of a lukewarm ham-and-cheese panini.
Luggage : A carry-on bag and a checked-in bag. We landed in good time but there was a slight hold-up with luggage in Perth. I shot through immigration and Customs like a blowfly through a window, though.
Overall experience : The rugby players mentioned above were on their way to Perth for the Bledisloe Cup test against the Wallabies at Optus Stadium, as was I (in my role as a rugby writer). You may have heard that the All Blacks suffered what then appeared a setback to their World Cup hopes when beaten 47-26 by the Aussies, only to respond quite spectacularly with a 36-0 win at Eden Park seven days later. That meant the team, and coach Steve Hansen can travel to Japan for their defence of the William Webb Ellis trophy in full enjoyment of Air New Zealand's new safety video featuring some of said team and coach. I'm not sure that would have been the case on the way home from Perth. Overall the flight to sunny Western Australia was satisfactory and non-eventful — just the way I like them.