Air New Zealand's announcement that it would be scrapping its flagship London via LA service after more than 36 years might have shocked but not surprised Kiwi air travellers.

With most travellers opting to fly via the shiny terminals of the near east rather than spend several joyless hours transferring through LAX with the TSA and other, associated TLAs – the route to Europe has been slipping away from Air NZ for three decades.

What's more interesting about the loss of London Heathrow is the airline's announcement – almost in the same breath – of direct flights to New York.

It appears the Koru is cutting ties with the old world for the new.


But beyond tough competition from other airlines, what's the reason for choosing the one Anglophone metropolis over the other? And what can passengers expect from the Big Apple vs the home of Big Ben?

They're both huge, English speaking, hideously expensive world capitals with plenty to offer a New Zealander on a city break.

Here's our – entirely scientific – weigh-up of London vs New York as travel destinations:

Tube vs Subway

Transport: London vs New York
Transport: London vs New York

New York Subway may once have been Ella Fitzgerald's "A-Train" of choice, but the train network is beginning to show its age in New York. Local rag the New York Times reported it has the worst delay times for any rapid transport system in the world. After years of neglect by city hall there are certain stops that New Yorkers are starting to feel outnumbered by subway rats. Though it's real, it's gritty and full of the unpretentious make-do character that defines the city.

The London Underground on the other hand has had one hell of a makeover since coming on-line 150 years ago. Historic underground - or "Tube" - stops are full of local curios and artworks from beloved books and the Blitz. Some of the newer terminals on the Jubilee Line are so modern looking they were used as Sci-Fi sets on the recent Star Wars films.

Between strikes, rush hour and climate protests – you'll find few transport systems more efficient.

Verdict: London's underground, uber alles.

Food: London vs New York
Food: London vs New York

Piece of eel pie vs pizza pie

On the fine dining scene New York wins hands down. On numbers alone, New York's 93 Michelin Star restaurants outshine London's Constellation of 85.


But what about the food of the people? Street food is an entirely different kettle of fish (which, incidentally, is a London delicacy).

New York's mysterious $1 dollar pizza has been consistently beating hunger and inflation on Manhattan street corners for years. Perhaps the most iconic New York delicacy is the "everything bagel" - a toasted multigrain odds-and-ends bun which is plastered together with a layer of cream cheese, as thickly as mortar pointing between brickwork. It's everything you'll need to set you up for a day in the grid.

London's food, on the other hand, is infamously bad. Pub grub is a culinary style that was invented to dissuade patrons from eating, so they would spend more time drinking. You'll find such classics as pickled onions, mushy peas, and "scotched" eggs. The stuff of nightmares. Jellied eels - I'm pleased to report – is a myth invented to make small children eat their greens.

Verdict: We'll have a slice of the Manhattan cheesecake.

Theatre: New York vs London
Theatre: New York vs London

West End vs Broadway

Bright lights, big names, bigger queues. London and New York share almost equal billing in theatre land.

The chance to see famous actors in the flesh intermittently interrupted by audience members' mobile phones make the theatre districts leading attractions of both cities.

With the amount of production crossing the Atlantic, most hit shows will have a performance running in both London and the States. Choice is not a problem in either city.

But the experience and the atmosphere of the theatre districts are everything.
The West End is full of old, peeling show houses that Shakespeare might recognise.

Compared to the seedy neon glow of Times Square and the off Broadway ticket touts - it's hard to choose one over the other.

However, London theatres have the cheek to charge you for "playbills" – essentially glossy copies of the actors' CVs. For that we'll mark them down.

Verdict: There's no way like Broadway.

Museums: London vs New York
Museums: London vs New York

MoMA vs Tate

Capitals of the arts for every Manhattan Guggenheim there is a London V&A, for every MoMA you will find at least two London Tate galleries. Between them the British Museum and the New York Metropolitan the two cities have pillaged half of antiquity.

There is little to separate the cities. However, London's free, publicly funded museums mean that you can stroll through the collections without paying a penny. There are ticketed galleries in both cities which you'd expect. However, the sheer variety of museums and value for money London's treasures trump New York.

Verdict: With difficulty telling where one museum ends and another begins: London is the city of galleries.

Parks: London vs New York
Parks: London vs New York

Central vs Hyde Park

Both cities are full of green spaces.

London's royal parks and gardens are home to palaces, parades, pomp and circumstance - plus the odd grey squirrel. London is 47 per cent grass and green space. New York on the other hand is less than 15 per cent green. However, most of this can be found at the heart of Manhattan, in the colossal green space at its centre.

While the English garden is a phenomenon not quite recreated anywhere else, New York's Central Park is a monster. In New York's urban oasis you'll find boating lakes, 3.5 square kilometres of parkland and a flock of gentoo penguins at the Central Park Zoo.

Verdict: Six times larger than Monaco, New York's Central Park wins.

Music: London vs New York
Music: London vs New York

Swinging London or Manhattan Disco

Both 24-hour cities have a reputation for being up all hours. New York is famously the "city that never sleeps" – however it's 816 nightclubs and bars are dwarfed by London's 1190 venue-strong club scene.

As for musical inspiration New York has had far more pop success.

According to the online music database of Wikipedia, there are 3250 songs with London in the title vs 4160 tunes about New York.

As for top 40 hits, London is still top of the pops.

Verdict: Music is London's calling.

Weather: London vs New York
Weather: London vs New York

London fog or New York drizzle?

London gets a bad rap for being wet but New York gets far more precipitation, with almost double London's downpour in some months. It also is prone to the odd blizzard and far more snow than London's mild climate could ever produce.

In winter the mean streets drop to lows of almost -7C compared to London's balmy winter average of 4C. New York gets a generous summer with an average day temperature of 26C and more sun than London sees all year.

Verdict: London's not so much a winner in this category as it is "not as bad" vs New York.

The final call

While London and New York might still be virtually inseparable on the points, there is one factor that might help divide the two competing cities.

For travellers the ease of getting to a place is a key consideration.

When it comes online next October, Air New Zealand's direct service expects to shrink flight time to just under 16 hours. Compared to the 26-hour average, plus a layover, of getting to London it seems New York may finally have a clear edge for Kiwi travellers.