A Guide to Flying Business Class with Air New Zealand
When you start likening your Business Class seat to your bed at home, the benefits of flying in a luxury cabin soon become clear – particularly when you’re travelling long haul. That’s exactly what happened to me when I had the pleasure of flying in Air New Zealand’s Business Premier™ from Auckland to London Heathrow (via Los Angeles). And while the seat was wonderful, encasing me in a fluffy, comfortable and private cloud in the sky, it was just the tip of the iceberg. But it comes to be expected, when you're flying with the World's Best Airline for 2020, right?
Like all good Business Class experiences should, mine began in the lounge. Air New Zealand’s Lounge in Auckland Airport to be precise. A sleek design, abundant and varied seating, and several different areas for eating, relaxing or working, made this one of the best lounges I’ve ever been in. That, and the steamed pork buns. Made fresh to order as part of a vast buffet of hot and cold food, plus chilled wines, these deliciously salty rolls were packed with flavour and – when accompanied by a glass of Kiwi rosé or a fresh beverage from the cocktail and espresso bar – were the perfect way to fuel up before my flight.
I also took the opportunity to freshen up here, utilising a vast private bathroom space, wetroom shower and Antipodes® bodywash, shampoo and conditioner. The Air New Zealand Lounge has seven shower spaces, all located behind a dedicated TV and movie room, which itself comes complete with chunky armchairs and mood lighting. There’s even a swish terrace area, complete with retractable roof and integrated firepit. All in all, this was the perfect way to begin my journey home.
I’m one of those flappers on planes. I always have multiple bags, multiple phones, a laptop, a coat, a cardigan – the works. When you’re flying Economy, this can make you feel a bit flustered, especially when trying to find your seat, or some nearby overhead locker space. But this was not a concern I had in Air New Zealand’s Business Premier cabin. In fact, as soon as I reached my seat (the first time I’ve been in row 1) the friendly crew introduced themselves, offered to help with my luggage, asked me my name, and almost immediately furnished me with a chilled glass of bubbly before take-off. I felt like royalty. I quickly realised why people rave about Air New Zealand’s warmth, service and that iconic Kiwi hospitality. My host offered me a menu before showing me all the extra storage spots I could use to stow my items, as well as pointing out my untouched amenity kit…
The amenity kit
So it turns out I’d been so excited by the menu, I’d forgotten to check out the amenity kit. Sipping my sparkling wine before take-off, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to unbox it. First off, the fetching purple socks. As a big fan of the colour purple (the movie and the hue) I loved the socks – they were just what I needed to get settled in and cosy onboard. If you don’t fancy swapping your socks for the flight, why not keep them back as part of a fresh change of clothes for when you reach your destination?
If you’re a light sleeper like me, you’ll have no trouble catching some shut-eye thanks to the eye mask and ear plugs. Then, when the time came for me to freshen up, an in-flight dental kit (toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash) was just the ticket, followed by a hydrating lip balm and hand cream from Ashley & Co. And finally, boasting Air New Zealand’s signature black and purple colours, the amenity pouch itself is a great addition to any travel kit - one that I'll definitely be using for future trips.
With so much to choose from, I spent a solid 20 minutes perusing the menu after we took to the skies. Did I want the wood-roasted chicken or the chive-baked cod? Perhaps a lighter option, like the Mexican tomato soup with cucumber cream? No, it had to be the Angus beef burger, complete with pimento cheese, dill pickle, grilled bacon and beet relish. I opted to follow it up with the chocolate, apricot and pecan brownie with salted maple caramel sauce too. Being accustomed to the tray-bake ready meals of Economy Class, when the cabin crew brought out my meal – served on real crockery with real cutlery, atop a real tablecloth, might I add – I was blown away. The food on the table (not tray) in front of me looked as though it could have been made in a restaurant with a full-size kitchen. And it tasted like it too. The burger was hot and juicy, the brownie rich and sugary. And of course all of it was accompanied by a free-poured selection of New Zealand’s best wines – just in case you were missing those Kiwi flavours already. Suffice to say, I did not regret my food selections.
With an 11-inch movable screen and hundreds of films and TV boxsets available on-demand, Business Premier’s entertainment offering is sure to keep you occupied in the sky. I was tempted by eighties classics like The Goonies and Back to the Future, as well as modern movies – such as The Greatest Showman. I was able to talk to my fellow travellers via the in-seat chat feature, as well as play games and charge my devices using the in-seat power points and USB outlets. Thanks to the noise-cancelling headphones, I soon forgot that I was on an aeroplane. In fact, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at home, unwinding in front of the TV in your favourite armchair…
And speaking of armchairs, of course I’ve saved the best for last. With a full belly and having binge-watched an entire BBC boxset, it was time to catch some sleep. The seat was comfy as it was – leather, wide (22 inches to be precise) and with an ottoman at the end, ideal for resting your feet or hosting a fellow traveller. But I wanted more comfort. So, with a little help from the attentive crew, it was quickly transformed into a two-metre, lie-flat bed, complete with two full-size pillows, cushiony memory-foam mattress and thick duvet. After brushing my teeth (using the bits from my amenity kit!) and changing into my pyjamas, I got into the bed, plugged in my seatbelt, selected some music from the in-flight entertainment system and, before I knew it, was drifting off to sleep. Blissful.
When I woke up, refreshed after six glorious hours’ sleep, I was greeted with a cup of tea and the offer of breakfast; a selection of hot and cold meals were available. While munching on some toast, realisation hit me: this flight had made coming home something to be cherished – not dreaded. My iPhone photos may not do it justice, but this experience was truly one of my best in the air, one I will savour for years to come. And when travelling long haul, that's exactly how all good journeys should be…