Class: Business Premier
The plane: A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, just over two years old. This 275-seat code 2 aircraft has a premium focus with 27 Business Premier seats, 33 Premium Economy and 215 in Economy.
Price: A promotion that ran this month has return Economy fares for February at $1367, Premium Economy $3608 and Business $4655. Air NZ is up against giant Korean Airlines on the Auckland-Seoul route - which over summer flies a Boeing 747-800 Jumbo. While neither are trashing their own fares, healthy competition will keep a lid on them. Air NZ flies three times a week year round, stepping up to five times in summer.
On time? Pushback a few minutes late but made up time during the flight that was just under 12 hours.
The airport experience: Auckland Airport's public departure space is great with a wide range of eateries, some good views and an excellent place to work with plenty of places to plug in your equipment.
The Air NZ lounge is also a great spot on a quiet Saturday morning, no signs of overcrowding that has been a problem at peak times. Incheon International in Seoul handles 60 million passengers a year (about three times that of Auckland) and is ultra-modern and widely praised. A breeze through Immigration and Customs for regular passengers without video equipment.
Fellow passengers: This was a relaunch after 22 years of not flying the route so was special. Up front there was the trade minister David Parker, the airline's chairwoman Dame Therese Walsh and acting chief executive Jeff McDowall on board with travel and tourism bigwigs. Premium Economy was also full, while there were a few empty seats in Economy.
The service: A strong suit. Aircraft are increasingly ubiquitous and cabin products similar, so it's the people that count. The airline is betting on a taste of Kiwiana and its crew to make a difference on this route and the two to three staff (out of a total of 10) at the front of the plane were excellent. Korean speakers were on board which was lucky - the arrival cards were all in Korean on the inaugural flight.
Flight check: Tokyo to Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines
Flight check: Auckland to Norfolk Island with Air Chathams
: 4k. There's not a lot of privacy on two thirds of the business cabin but with a bunch of Kiwis, many of who know each other, this is not a bad thing. It's collegial. The seat itself is super comfy. While not the widest in the air has a big range of storage options with the space under the ottoman most useful. Window seats have great shelf space behind them. The herringbone layout means you're pointing away from the window which makes sight-seeing a bit tricky. Some functions of the seat and storage are a bit fussy and hard to reach, especially for bigger passengers. Modifications will be rolled out soon.
Food: Because of the late morning departure time there's lots of it - two big meals and sandwiches and cakes in between. There's a Korean influence northbound, the Bulgigi beef with Korean rice for lunch was superb. Spicy Korean chicken with pickled radish, steamed rice and chilli vegetables were also great. Out of Seoul, Air NZ has been working with local caterers LSG to ensure there is a taste of Korea on board. To get the taste buds working 10km up it pays to go spicy. The whole plane got a glass of Champagne to mark the occasion and there's a great selection of New Zealand wines (although no Rose). I stuck to the excellent Japanese green tea.
Entertainment. No wi-fi aboard this plane but 'grammers take heart - it's being rolled out on the Dreamliner fleet now. There's an 11 inch screen with loads of entertainment options including box sets from Big Little Lies to Chernobyl.
Amenity kit : Generous tubes of Ashley&Co hand cream, natty socks, slippers, a toothbrush and mouthwash, earplugs, a standard issue eye mask and to mark this flight the very cool allbirds version.
There are three toilets for Business Premier, which adds up to a great pax to pan ratio. Clean and tidy with the Dreamliner sensor flush and taps. Kiwi tunes are piped in.
The final word: This week Air NZ collected yet another award - the top carrier as judged by the editors of AirlineRatings.com. The airline likes this one - it's won it six times. For across the board consistency it says it all. Seoul's a great destination and being able to get there on Koru will add to its appeal.