Review of Air New Zealand flight Queenstown Auckland in Economy

Airline Air New Zealand
Flight NZ620
Class Economy
Seat --
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 01:50
Take-off 13 Jan 16, 09:35
Arrival at 13 Jan 16, 11:25
NZ   #28 out of 124 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 81 reviews
KévinDC
By GOLD 2507
Published on 26th January 2016
Kia Ora! Welcome to the next report in this series of flights down under! This report will cover a domestic flight on Air New Zealand between the South and the North Island. This is the only non-oneworld flight in the routing.

Here is the full routing:

Washington Reagan National DCA ✈ Dallas - Fort Worth DFW : American Airlines, B737-800, Domestic First class [HERE]
Dallas - Fort Worth DFW ✈ Hong Kong Check Lap Kok HKG : American Airlines, B777-300ER, Business Class [HERE]
Hong Kong Chek Lap Kok HKG ✈ Singapore Changi SIN : Cathay Pacific, B777-300, Business Class [HERE]
Singapore Changi SIN ? Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD : British Airways, B777-300ER, Premium Economy [HERE]
Melbourne Tullamarine MEL ✈ Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD : Qantas Airways, B737-800, Business Class [HERE]
Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD ✈ Christchurch Airport CHC : Qantas Jetconnect, B737-800, Business Class [HERE]
Queenstown Airport ZQN ✈ Auckland Airport AKL : Air New Zealand, A320-200, Economy Class [THIS REPORT]
Auckland Airport AKL ✈ Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD : LAN Airlines, B787-9, Business Class [HERE]
Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD ✈ Singapore Changi SIN : British Airways, B777-300ER, Business Class [HERE]
Singapore Changi SIN ✈ Tokyo Narita NRT : Japan Airlines, B767-300ER, Economy Class [HERE]
Tokyo Narita NRT ✈ Chicago O'hare ORD : American Airlines, B787-8, Business Class [HERE]
Chicago O'hare ORD ✈ Washington Reagan National DCA : American Airlines, B737-800, Domestic First Class [HERE]

After a wonderful week of breathtaking scenery in the South Island of New Zealand, it was time to head to the North Island for a few days. Only two airlines fly direct between Queenstown and Auckland: Air New Zealand and Jetstar. Both airlines operate one-class A320s on the route. Although Jetstar was less expensive, I decided on Air New Zealand to test out the flag carrier of this awesome country.

We arrived at Queenstown Airport a little over an hour before departure.

photo IMG_5463

Check-in was quick, as there was no line. I was glad because I'm not used to flying on carriers on which I don't have status and access to priority check in and security.

Domestically, Air New Zealand operates like a low-cost carrier with fees for checked bags and seat assignments etc. I paid for a higher fare that included bags and seat assignments as I knew I'd have quite a bit of luggage for the 3 week+ trip.

Normally, when travelling in Y, I assign a window and an aisle in hopes the middle stays empty. But that isn't possible with Air New Zealand; the seats have to be together. However, with our fare we were able to select Space+ seats towards the front of the cabin with 34" of pitch.

photo NZ Seatmap 1photo NZ Seatmap 2

FIDS

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Central waiting area

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Our aircraft on the parking stand. I love the new NZ livery.

photo IMG_5464

Jetstar A320 to Sydney

photo IMG_5465

The gate area was really small and crowded. There was a large group of boisterous American college kids just laying on the ground in front of the gate podium, like it was still camping time. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my countrymen overseas.

Boarding began right about on time, but it was a total cluster with such a crowd in front of the gate podium. My fare came with priority boarding, so we were among the first to board.

photo IMG_5466

Generally good looking cabin. I like the black leather.

photo IMG_5467photo IMG_5468

My seat. 2 rows in front of the Exit Row.

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Seat pitch is really good at 34"

photo IMG_5474

View out of the window.

photo IMG_5470

Contents of the seat-back pocket

photo IMG_5475

Despite the chaotic boarding, it was over rather quickly. The fun surf-themed Air New Zealand safety video is played after pushback.

photo IMG_5476photo IMG_5477



ZQN has one main runway. We taxi to the end of the runway and do a turn for takeoff.



It's a shame that it is cloudy this morning and the beautiful mountains around Queenstown are hidden in the clouds.



Nice sharklet

photo IMG_5488

Some of the highest mountain peaks of the Southern Alps can be seen above the clouds



Beautiful scenery is always the best kind of In-Flight entertainment.

About a half hour after takeoff, a snack is served. There are only three choices of drinks: Coffee, tea, or water.
Anything else is Buy-on-Board. This seems awfully cheap and even below U.S. standards.

photo IMG_5501

Trivia is played on the overhead screens. I didn't see anywhere to connect head phones, so I assume they don't ever play movies on the screens.

photo IMG_5502

Leaving the South Island over Tasman Bay



After crossing Cook Strait, we arrive over the North Island.

photo IMG_5508

Soon enough we begin our descent and here we are over the southern Auckland suburbs.



The Auckland CBD with the Sky Tower in the distance.

photo IMG_5512

Landing with a beautiful NZ 789 in view



We park next to these fellow A320s

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Welcome to Auckland!

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Thanks for reading!

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Tourism Bonus: New Zealand South Island


Christchurch, the largest city on the South Island, is still rebuilding from the devastation after the swarm of large earthquakes that rocked the Canterbury region in 2010 and 2011.



Lake Tekapo

photo IMG_5048photo IMG_5051

Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park and Lake Pukaki

Glacial Lake Mueller and Mount Sefton

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Glaciers of Mount Sefton

photo IMG_5136

Mount Cook / Aoraki

photo IMG_5101

Glacial Lake Hooker with icebergs

photo IMG_5118

Snow-capped summit of Mount Cook

photo IMG_5133

The mountain lakes in New Zealand are a gorgeous blue that you don't often see in nature.

photo IMG_5146photo IMG_5147

Wanaka Area

Rob Roy Glacier Track, Mount Aspiring National Park



Lake Wanaka

photo IMG_5210photo IMG_5212

Kawarau River

photo IMG_5219

Milford Sound / Fiordland

Lake Gunn

photo IMG_5225photo IMG_5235

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

photo IMG_5244

Planespotting in Milford sound :-)



Mirror Lakes

photo IMG_5346photo IMG_5349

Lake Te Anau

photo IMG_5355

Queenstown / Lake Wakatipu Area

Lake Wakatipu

photo IMG_5359

Queenstown

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The Glenorchy area at the northern tip of lake Wakatipu.
Many scenes from The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies were filmed in this area.

photo IMG_5379photo IMG_5413

Paradise, near Glenorchy



Dart River Estuary, Glenorchy

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See more

Verdict

Air New Zealand

6.6/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment6.5
Meal/catering4.0

Queenstown - ZQN

7.2/10
Efficiency6.5
Access7.0
Services7.5
Cleanliness8.0

Auckland - AKL

8.9/10
Efficiency8.5
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

It was an overall good first flight with Air New Zealand onboard a brand new aircraft. The seats were comfortable and the crew was pleasant. There were some disappointing aspects, however. I didn't like that I didn't have the option of assigning a window and an aisle. I also thought that limiting drink choices to coffee, tea, or water was very cheap. Luckily, domestic flights within New Zealand are short. This Queenstown to Auckland flight at 1h45m flying time is about as long as it gets.

Information on the route Queenstown (ZQN) Auckland (AKL)

28 Comments

  • Comment 160038 by
    jetsetpanda 2279 Comments

    I love the new NZ livery.
    - I think it is quite elegant.

    There was a large group of boisterous American college kids just laying on the ground in front of the gate podium, like it was still camping time. Sometimes I'm embarrassed by my countrymen overseas
    - Sometimes you run into groups with t-shirts stating their association with a particular church on their way to a missionary trip.

    Seat pitch is really good at 34
    - Nothing like traveling comfortably (or snugly) :P

    Beautiful scenery is always the best kind of In-Flight entertainment.
    - Gorgeous! I wouldn't mind having a window seat on those routes.

    Anything else is Buy-on-Board. This seems awfully cheap and even below U.S. standards.
    - Just when you thought that it couldn't get any lower. Well, they are a smaller country than the U.S. though.

    Absolutely breathtaking bonus with superb shots. I bet you felt that you were in paradise.

    Thank you Kevin for sharing this lovely segment of your trip.

    • Comment 336750 by
      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

      Thanks for your comments Adan!

      Sometimes you run into groups with t-shirts stating their association with a particular church on their way to a missionary trip.
      - Yeah, I think they were just camping on the South Island.

      Absolutely breathtaking bonus with superb shots. I bet you felt that you were in paradise.
      - It was Paradise! So Beautiful. There was actually a place called Paradise on the South Island. I had forgotten to put a pic of it in the bonus. Thanks for inadvertently reminding me.

      Thanks for stopping by :-)

    • Comment 160055 by
      SMilano 1266 Comments

      Thanks Kevin for sharing this awesome report.

      ANZ in domestic flight is very simple, just a nice flight from A to B.
      ANZ livery is one of the most beautiful and the one I prefer.

      Beautiful scenery is always the best kind of In-Flight entertainment.
      I think is one of the most beautiful you can have. There is so many beautiful place around the world but New Zealand is so special.

      Thanks for this amazing bonus ! New Zealand is really the paradise on earth. I feel so sad now because I left this country 1 year ago and I miss it sooooo much ! So thank you again to remember me such beautiful places I ever visited !

      See you

      • Comment 336757 by
        KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

        Thanks for your comments! You are so right--there is something special about New Zealand. I guess that's why it's Middle Earth ^^
        I've never been somewhere where everywhere you turn is breathtaking. I wish I had had more time to visit, especially to see more of the North Island as you did when you lived there. Now that AA will be flying direct from LAX to AKL, it will be easier to get to New Zealand for short trips.

        Thanks for stopping by!

        • Comment 336771 by
          KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

          Thanks very much for your comments! NZ is known for its fun and entertaining Safety videos. It's not just young people that don't pay attention and follow rules--many frequent flyers never pay attention because they fly a lot and think they are familiar with procedures, but every airline has particularities, not to mention every country has different laws. Here are some other examples of fun NZ safety videos, in case you haven't seen them:

          Hobbit/Lord of The Ring Themed:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch'v=qOw44VFNk8Y

          https://www.youtube.com/watch'v=cBlRbrB_Gnc

          Men in Black:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch'v=ji65WI5QLZI

          The Bare Essentials:

          https://www.youtube.com/watch'v=fwBfOSZKipk

          Thanks for stopping by!

        • Comment 160086 by
          nechus SILVER 589 Comments

          Wonderful report! Thank you very much, especially for the bonus.

          I think that the surfing themed safety video is a great idea, not only as a way to foster tourism, but also because it appeals to young people, who are usually reluctant to follow rules, by linking the rules to something cool.

          • Comment 160118 by
            MrMax 144 Comments

            Thanks for the FR

            Beautiful scenery!

            Standereds are lower than US carriers

            At least you got a cookie :) Suprising that their standerds are so low. I got a compliamentry meal on AKL-SYD with NZ in 2011

            • Comment 336773 by
              KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

              Thanks for your comment! Yeah, it seems that they operate this kind of low-cost model only on domestic route. Trans-Tasman flights seem to be operated with higher international standards, and as you mention, meals are complimentary on Trans-Tasman routes. I wouldn't expect a complimentary meal on a short domestic flight; however, a bigger choice of drinks, to include sodas and juices, would be expected on a carrier with a good reputation like NZ. Thanks for stopping by!

            • Comment 160129 by
              marathon GOLD 9052 Comments

              Superb report and bonus, despite the cloud cover.

              All in all, I would rather a legacy airline providing a drink + BOB food, to another legacy airline providing a drink + a 10g portion of salty stuff OR 20g of cookies. It is easy to bring your own cookies and I do not need a FA to distribute them on board. And if I was really hungry, the BOB would be useful.

              Thanks for sharing !

              PS : Frogs eat frogs, they don't count their toes ^^

              • Comment 336800 by
                KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                Thank you! Yes, it's such a shame it was cloudy. I don't even want to think at how breathtaking it would have been if the skies were clear.

                I would rather there be BOB options than nothing at all as well, so it is nice that they offer a cookie, but you have the option to buy snacks. However, the free drink selection is poor. On U.S. carriers on domestic flights, all soft drinks are free and there is usually a little sweet or salty snack, AND you also have the option to buy alcoholic drinks or food from a BOB menu--this is better than NZ's domestic model IMO. On Hard Product, NZ is better than U.S. carriers. 34 of pitch is pretty nice.

                Frogs eat frogs, they don't count their toes ^^
                - Hmmm...is that a Chinese proverb? Sorry, I have no idea what that means :-P

                • Comment 336805 by
                  marathon GOLD 9052 Comments

                  About frogs : this was just a joke on the quiz on the IFE screen :)

                • Comment 336823 by
                  KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                  Hah! I see now--the Amphibian toe questio! Haha Silly me :-P

                  • Comment 336828 by
                    nechus SILVER 589 Comments

                    Five ( http://www.exploratorium.edu/frogs/mainstory/frogstory2.html )
                    Woo hooo!!!!
                    What did I win?? :D

                  • Comment 336835 by
                    KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                    Hahaha! Good for you :-)

                    You win a lifetime Free membership to Flight-Report.com :-P

                  • Comment 160176 by
                    KL651 TEAM 4261 Comments

                    Thanks for this FR.

                    I didn't expect a BoB for soft drinks from NZ but then again if they have to compete with JetStar and offer low prices...

                    I agree that the new livery is really cool, the addition of the black tail with the fern was necessary.

                    Great bonus, the landscapes are really breathtaking! Lots of wet phoques too. I bet you liked that... ^^

                    • Comment 336872 by
                      KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                      I didn't expect a BoB for soft drinks from NZ
                      - Me neither! I was really surprised. It's not like I absolutely had to have a soda, and was fine with tea, but I just found it weird and cheap.

                      but then again if they have to compete with JetStar and offer low prices
                      - That's a really good point, and this is certainly the reason for the lack of service on board. But there are ways to compete without totally sinking to the level of an LCC. US Legacy carriers have to compete with the likes of Frontier and Spirit, both LCCs, but you don't see them charging for sodas and carry-ons. Some airlines have chosen to go for an LCC model on short/medium-haul and full service on long-haul--EI comes to mind--but I find that this type of inconsistency is bad for the customer experience. I'd be pissed if I were connecting from a TPAC flight in J on one of NZ's awesome 77Ws or 789s, and had to connect to a flight where I had to pay for soda. I know AF does this domestically, but no AF domestic flight ever really goes over 2 hours. Because New Zealand is long, some flights can be over 2 hours. I'm nitpicking, and it's really no big deal, but I never understand these kinds of product inconsistencies.

                      • Comment 336873 by
                        KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                        Oh, and I'm glad you liked my pic of wet phoques...I put that up there just for you :-)

                      • Comment 160181 by
                        NGO85 1624 Comments

                        Thanks for sharing this domestic report Kevin!

                        Seems kind of weird that they require both seats to be together. What if you both wanted aisles? Like a C/D situation? Most parents often do this and seems like it would banish one person to the middle seat by default. In your case, we know who got banished ;)

                        large group of boisterous American college kids
                        - Sounds like the last week of my trip, a gentile reminder of why Americans are loathed around the world. LIS was particularly bad with spring breakers. Had an American in front of my on my last JU flight, was very rude to the FA. I almost felt like apologizing to her on behalf of the US while deplaning.

                        My fare came with priority boarding
                        - But no other priority perks? Jetstar also has some premium fare classes where you can get add-ons as well. But I don't think they come with as much legroom as your seat (maybe just bulkhead and exit row).

                        This seems awfully cheap and even below U.S. standards.
                        - Agreed. Even in Japan, the offerings are few, but those are the only options. Charging for other drinks that they have, but aren't complimentary is very cheap. But that pitch! Oh, that pitch, it makes all those complaints vanish. Imagine the 29 on Jetstar ;)

                        Trivia is played on the overhead screens
                        - What a weird choice of things to play. Makes you feel like you are in a movie theater waiting for the previews to start...

                        Thank you for the beautiful aerials and bonus. The landscapes have some Montana in them (minus the whole water part). I also see you are trying to rival my farm bonus by including some seals and sheep ;)

                        • Comment 336946 by
                          NGO85 1624 Comments

                          You can still apply this scheme by booking separate tickets, but the inconvenience keeps this scheme marginal.
                          - This would have been my recommendation to this problem. Since you don't have any status on *A that would provide any service benefits by booking the tickets together (if your spouse had no status and your status would benefit them by being on the same ticket). I would have just bought two separate tickets and then picked your two seats freely.

                        • Comment 160200 by
                          KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                          Thanks for your comments Michael!

                          What if you both wanted aisles? Like a C/D situation?
                          - You can do a C/D situation, you can even split the seats to be in different rows. But you can't do an A/C or D/F in the same row. Drove me crazy! I get that airlines hate when people do this because it can split up groups, but if I pay a higher fare that includes seat assignments, or better yet, specifically pay for seat assignments, then I should be able to assign the seats I want. If the cheap people who don't wanna pay for seat assignments get split up or stuck in middle seats, I'm not responsible. Not my fault they didn't want to pay--those are the consequences. Ancillary fees are the name of the game, free seat assignments for non-Elites are fast becoming a thing of the past. I'm not saying it's a good thing, but that's how it is.

                          But that pitch! Oh, that pitch, it makes all those complaints vanish. Imagine the 29 on Jetstar ;)
                          - Haha, yes, 34 is definitely nice! Ugh, I've only done 29 pitch on AirAsia before and it was definitely tight--and I'm only 5'10. It was one of the reasons I didn't pick Jetstar. If actual Qantas flew domestic NZ routes, I would have chosen them. But I was overall happy with NZ. Great seats, good amount of room, nice new plane, and one of the best liveries out there! I wasn't wowed like I expected to be considering NZ's great reputation, but I was happy.

                          What a weird choice of things to play. Makes you feel like you are in a movie theater waiting for the previews to start...
                          - Yay singing popcorn and snacks! ♫ Let's all go to the movies ♫

                          I also see you are trying to rival my farm bonus by including some seals and sheep ;)
                          - DOH! I totally forgot to include pics of my animal park visit in Australia to the Australia segments! haha. You could touch the animals so I got to cuddle with a Koala and pet wallabies - Adorable! :-)

                          • Comment 336919 by
                            KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                            I will agree with you on the point that this is bad for Business travellers, or anyone having to buy tickets last minute for that matter, as they are usually much more expensive. There is a solution for this and airlines make use of it--blocking seats or allowing certain fare types (read, more expensive fares), to select preferred or premium seats that are otherwise not accessible to others. This scheme is most often applied to passengers with Elite status, but is more and more being applied to higher fares in Y. Some airlines allow all but the cheapest fares free seat assignments. Therefore, not being able to select a seat until OLCI is a tradoff for a cheaper fare, and yes, you'll most likely end up in a middle seat because the ones who paid more for their ticket have chosen all the good seats--this seems relatively fair to me. There are many flavors of this and not a single option is fair to everyone--it really is a matter of opinion. So, in short, I half agree with you, haha, but there are ways around it. I feel sorry for those who don't travel often and don't think to get seat assignments and end up in middle seats, but there's not a whole lot anyone can do about it except for auto-assigning seats, and that's just a nightmare in an of itself. Like AF's automatic check-in on Domestic flight---what a mess!

                            Thanks,

                            Kevin

                            • Comment 336886 by
                              marathon GOLD 9052 Comments

                              You can't do an A/C or D/F in the same row. Drove me crazy! (...)

                              - I fully disagree with you. That aisle/window scheme is OK if it remains marginal. If it generalizes (maybe it did?), then
                              a) all people will need to pay for their seats, or else travel away from each other and on middle seats.
                              b) all last minute flyers get only middle seats, and that includes business travelers.

                              Point a is bad for travelers, and Point b is bad for the airline. Small wonder that the airline programmed their application to defeat this scheme.
                              You can still apply this scheme by booking separate tickets, but the inconvenience keeps this scheme marginal.

                              I'm not saying NZ's policy is a good thing for you, but that's how it is, and it's best for all.

                            • Comment 160314 by
                              Chibcha 425 Comments

                              Well the drink choices are almost like AVs within Colombia, and they don't give you a cookie here!

                              Awesome pictures btw, thanks for sharing!

                            • Comment 161049 by
                              Rl 777 812 Comments

                              Thank you for sharing this great FR with us! I guess I'm very late to the party.

                              Beautiful apron shots from ZQN!

                              The cabin looks really nice, the black leather looks very nice and elegant.

                              The scenery around ZQN is just breathtaking...

                              Natural IFE at its best, absolutely spectacular aerial shots!

                              The service offerings were pretty bland, but could have been worse.

                              Great spotting shots at AKL and thank you for the astounding tourism bonus!

                              Have a good one, see you!

                              • Comment 337588 by
                                KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                                Thanks for your comments :-)
                                I like the look of the cabin as well and like the black leather.

                                Natural IFE at its best, absolutely spectacular aerial shots!
                                - Thanks! Too bad it was so cloudy with a low ceiling.

                                Glad you enjoyed the report. Thanks for stopping by!

                              • Comment 363019 by
                                zkncj 2 Comments

                                All Air New Zealand flights under 10hours don't provide, Meals,Drinks,Movies and Bags they have an product called Seats2Suit on these routes which is pretty much the same as an LCC - http://www.airnewzealand.co.nz/aussie-and-islands-service-seats-to-suit

                                These products are typically only offered on the .co.nz/com.au version of the Air New Zealand website, and entry level fares e.g Seat Only match Jetstar and sometimes are cheaper than Jetstar.

                                Domestic Flights don't offer an buy on board service, its just the tea,coffee,water. Monday-Friday 4-7pm A320 services have free Wine & Beer offer along with cheese an crackers.

                                • Comment 363066 by
                                  KévinDC TEAM GOLD AUTHOR 4580 Comments

                                  Interesting! Oh wow, surprised to see this applies to flights even to PPT. I believe SIN is also under 10 hours but seems to be exempt--makes sense given the higher yielding nature of the market. Living in the US, ANZ has such a great reputation for TPAC flights that it is surprising to see a low-cost model operating on such long sectors--less surprising on short-haul/domestic as this is now the norm in most of the world. It definitely makes sense to match Jetstar on these shorter routes. Thanks for the information! I take it you are a New Zealander?

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