Although I was not looking forward to leaving Middle-Earth, New Zealand is just such a breathtakingly beautiful country, I was very much looking forward to this flight. This will not only be my first 787 Dreamliner flight ever, but it's on a cool 5th freedom route on the other side of the world!
The night before the flight, I received a text message, voicemail, and e-mail from Qantas (tickets were bought through Qantas.com) advising of a delay on the morning LAN flight due to a late departure from Santiago de Chile. The delay was only an hour so I wasn't too worried about it. I appreciated Qantas' efforts to notify us of this change.
In the morning, we got to the airport about 2 hours prior to the normal scheduled departure. You never know that delays can be shortened if the flight from SCL makes up time in the air so it's important to arrive about on time for normal departure time.
Interesting curbside coffee shop.
Although there was only one family in front of us in the Business class check-in queue, it took the agent a good 15 minutes to get them checked in–maybe this was due to the delay. Only one agent was working the Business class line and none of the Economy check-in agents thought to call us over to shorten the wait. Once we got to the check-in counter, the agent was friendly and efficient. We had a connection from SYD on BA on a separate ticket and she checked our bags through on the BA flight with no problems.
Security was a breeze and we were through and airside in just a few minutes.
The Qantas First and Business lounges are located upstairs. The Emirates lounge is just to the right of the Qantas lounge. Had we been flying Qantas, we would have had access to the Emirates lounge, but because we were flying LAN, we were limited to the Qantas lounges.
Upon entry and check of boarding passes, a friendly agent points us to the First class lounge to our left.
The First class lounge is on the small side, but as there are very few people in the lounge, it is pleasant and cosy.
Large choice of newspapers and magazines are available
Hot food and a decent choice of beer and wine are self-serve. Hard liquor, however, is not available until 11:30AM. Luckily, I wasn't in the mood for a Bloody Mary.
Good champagne is always better than a Bloody Mary anyway, no matter the hour :-)
The hot dishes were closer to lukewarm, but I like that they had Eggs-Benedict.
There is a small work area in a separate room with 4 computer stations. I printed the boarding passes for the BA flight here to save a trip to a transfer desk in SYD.
As I didn't see any FIDS in the First class lounge, around 0800 I went out to ask the lounge agent if she knew the status of the LAN flight to SYD. I had seen online that the inbound flight had arrived at 0640 and figured we would be boarding soon. The agent called the gate and was told that boarding would begin in 10 minutes. Perfect timing!
View of our beautiful LAN 787-9 as we approach the gate.
As I came down the escalator to the gate area, I could see it was a mess in the gate area.
It was bad. Way worse than the usual U.S. Gate Lice mess–this was the most chaotic boarding I'd even seen. There were 2 very long lines of people lined up in from of 2 agents working at gate podiums. I have no idea what all these people were doing in line, maybe getting rebooked for missed connections. Normally, that should have been done in SCL.
Agents looked stressed out and noone was making any announcements. After about 15 minutes of waiting with no information, announcements are made that boarding will begin shortly. Agents make announcements to make room for boarding as there are still two long lines blocking the way. The announcements are made only in English, and it is obvious that a lot of people don't understand.
When boarding begins with Business class, noone can even get to the front to board. The agents just sit there staring into space. Not without difficulty, we were able to make our way to the front for boarding. We ended up being the first on board, which was nice.
As soon as we step on board, the chaos of the gate area is quickly forgotten. Despite the 2-2-2 configuration not affording direct aisle access to all passengers, the cabin is very chic and modern. The grays and reds go well together with the soft mood lighting.
The cabin and seats are spacious.
The IFE screens are nice and large.
My seat in row 3.
Legroom is excellent.
View from my seat
As soon as we are settled in, the very friendly FA brings pre-departure drinks. Water and orange juice are the two choices–no champagne, most likely because of the morning hour.
Lovely mood lighting and 787 architectural features.
Menus were already in the seat pocket, but the flight attendant comes to point them out to us in case we hadn't see them.
Let's take a look at the menu.
Two options for main dishes. A charcuterie plate of a plain omelet.
The armrest can come up to create a privacy partition.
The remote control for the IFE is under the armrest along with a universal power outlet and USB port.
Noise cancelling headphones
Window glass controls - unique feature to the 787
Difference between the darkest and lightest setting. The 3 windows in each row are linked so that pressing the button on one of the windows darkens all three.
As boarding continues, Flight Attendants passed out amenity kits. These were very simple kits–I'm guessing these are for short/medium-haul.
Boarding of Economy seemed to take forever. We had already been onboard for almost half an hour and boarding was still in full swing.
The door was finally closed at 0850.
And we pushed back a few minutes later. Announcements on board were made in English and Spanish. The Captain apologized for the delay, but didn't go into detail about the causes.
The Safety video plays during taxi
A beautiful sight for an AvGeek, an Air New Zealand 787-9 in All Blacks livery
Korean Air A333
Air New Zealand A320 landing
Cathay Pacific A343
Behind an Air New Zealand B772ER for departure
We finally took off at at 0915
Auckland CBD in the distance
Some nice scenery on the climb out.
The mood lighting is turned on a few minutes after takeoff. It looks really good IMO.
Quick visit to the restroom. Nothing terribly fancy, but some decent products. Overall, the space isn't as large as I was expecting.
Breakfast was served about a half hour into the flight. There is a hot option and a cold plate, as we saw earlier. Neither one sounded terribly appetizing, but I went for the "plain" omelette. And plain it was! It had no flavor, not even a little bit of salt. I guess that's what the salt and pepper shakers are for, but still, super bland. I would have thought a South American airline would have served something with a little more taste, and spice. The omelette wasn't the only bland item–basically everything on the main dish had no flavor. The Rösti potatoes tasted like watery grits–not crispy as they should have been. And the tomatoes had no seasoning. The croissant, fruit, and pound cake were fine.
The saving grace was the Louis Roederer Brut champagne.
The FAs came regularly to check on drinks and refill champagne.
After the meal, I watched a movie and stretched out.
The seat is great in full-flat position, and it's reasonably easy, if you're in the window seat, to climb over the aisle passenger when in bed mode, as the seat in full-flat mode is low to the ground.
Business cabin, mid flight, with all the windows darkened
Before we know it, we were over Sydney and it was time to land.
The cabin is prepared for landing.
In previous reports, I had mentioned that it was cloudy and rainy every time I land in Sydney. I wasn't kidding…this time is no exception.
Nice diversity of traffic on landing.
Korean Air A388
Garuda Indonesia A333
We pass the SQ A380 again to our left.
Air Asia X A333
Lineup of Cathay and Qantas tails
We park next to Qantas B744 VH-OEJ "Wunala" in special Socceroos livery.
Last view of the cabin
This report ends here. See you soon for the next segment of the BA 5th Freedom flight from Sydney to Singapore.
After bonus pics of the South Island in the last report, here are some pics from my short few days on the North Island.
Mount Eden, a dormant volcano 4km south of the Auckland CBD
Another volcano across the bay
Auckland Sky Tower, the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
Hobbiton Movie Set near Matamata, Waikato
While most of the outdoor scenes in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies were filmed in the majestic scenery of the South Island, the setting for Hobbiton, and the Shire is the rolling hills of the North Island.
Rotorua is the capital of New Zealand's Maori culture, as well as being famous for its geothermal hot springs.
Private lakefront geothermal pool at Polynesian Spa. So relaxing.
Qantas First class lounge
Auckland - AKL
Sydney - SYD
A great first experience on the Dreamliner. The LAN 787-9 Business cabin is beautiful. The 2-2-2 configuration is not ideal if travelling alone, but it's perfect for couples. The seats are very comfortable and wide, giving a feeling of open spaciousness due to the lack of high walls. The crew was attentive, professional, and did a great job but were not overly chatty. The IFE was pefect, huge screens and a great selection of entertainment. The meal was the only disappointing part, it was bland and boring. I expected something a little more exciting from a South American carrier. The hour and a half delay didn't have any impact for us, but it caused a lot of chaos at the gate.
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