In mid-August, I took leave from work and went on a break in the wintery southern hemisphere, to Middle Earth, also known as New Zealand. This trip would consist of 5 flight sectors, with 4 economy sectors with Air New Zealand, and the last sector on Singapore Airlines in Business. This review would be photo-heavy.
Forward to the day of departure, NZ operates a daily morning flight on its Dreamliner from Changi to Auckland. This flight, which is code-shared with SQ, would soon be operated by SQ instead while NZ would shift its flight to an additional evening departure to AKL from SIN, supplementing SQ's evening departure.
NZ operates from Terminal 3, and reaching the check-in desks about 1.5hrs before departure, the 3 counters opened for check-in were totally empty. Check-in was completed without any wait and boarding passes issued.
The Dreamliner was parked at gate A1, and was clearly visible from the transit hall after immigration.
Using my priority pass, I went to the SATS Premier Lounge to grab a light breakfast. The lounge was not too crowded and had a soothing environment.
Food and beverage selection for breakfast was decent and plentiful, though not as impressive as airline flagship lounges.
After the lounge visit, it was only a short walk to the gate, where boarding had just commenced.
18 August 2018 Air New Zealand NZ 281 Singapore (SIN) - Auckland (AKL) B787-9 ZK-NZC Economy Class Flight Time: 8H51M
ZK-NZC all ready for boarding.
It would be my first time flying the B787 in economy, expecting a tight-width seat and aisle.
Welcomed onboard by the friendly crew and made a right turn into economy. NZ's economy seats, configured 3-3-3, are upholstered in dull black-coloured tone and comes with adjustable headrests. On each seat was a pillow, blanket and headsets.
There is a touch-screen IFE monitor with very good resolution. The touch-screen monitor also serves as call buttons and overhead light controls. There is a USB port under the monitor, as well as 2 electrical outlets for every 3 seats. Seat pitch, at 31" pitch, felt reasonable and seat cushioning and support was comfortable.
Amenities include a pillow and blanket.
Safety card and the cheeky vomit-bag. There were no inflight magazines available at the seats. Instead, some copies were available in the magazine racks at the rear bulkhead of each cabin.
Worth a mention is the economy headphones, which I must say is the most comfortable and of best quality of any economy headphones I received on airlines I have flown. The headphones came with leather pads, which made for a comfortable fit as well as provided a bit of noise-cancellation capability. Sound quality was very good as well!
Less than 9hrs to Auckland today. The flight map was very easy to navigate, and very responsive via the touchscreen monitor.
Still at the gate.
Boarding almost completed. The cabin was rather full, with approximately 80% load factor in economy I guess. All 3 seats at my side were taken up.
Pushed back, ANZ's entertaining safety video was played. For this season, the safety video was Antarctic-themed.
Full video can be watched via the link below.
Passed a newly-retired SQ B772 and more while taxiing to the runway.
Departure from Rwy20C bound for the Middle Earth!
Lets explore NZ's IFE system. I must say that the entertainment selection is pretty extensive, and the ease of use is rather idiot-friendly.
There is a cool feature where your seatmate could join you in a movie at the exact same point of the movie!
Water was first offered right after takeoff.
Decided to watch 'Love, Simon'.
After the water service, breakfast was served. As no menus were offered, an announcement was made in the economy cabin regarding the both meal choices available and the rest of the starters/desserts served. For breakfast, we were offered a choice of Omelette with chicken sausage, hashbrown and spinach, or Vegetarian fried noodles. Accompanying the meal were cut fruits, yoghurt, muffin and selection of hot/cold beverages.
Breakfast served by the friendly NZ crew.
Meal tray. Cutlery were in plastic, but the coffee/tea mug was the biggest and most generous I have seen in economy. I chose the vegetarian fried noodles option, which was pretty good.
The omelette choice was normal airplane omelette.
Enjoying my tea with the movie. The quantity of tea in the mug easily double what is normally served in a SQ economy tray teacup.
Nearing Surabaya after breakfast and 1st movie.
Paid a visit to the lavatory at the rear. There is a single huge economy galley at the rear of the aircraft.
The lavs have unique designs on the walls, and offer the basic amenities. The rear lavatory has a 'cloud' design on the walls.
View of the Dreamliner cabin with mood-lighting switched on. Quite a full flight and it seemed that most passengers are connecting from the SQ/MI flights.
Grabbed a copy of the inflight magazine (July-edition) from the magazine rack and requested for a toothbrush set from the crew. Other amenities were also available on request.
Probably over Bali or Lombok.
Midflight while watching mu second movie, the IFE popped out an announcement that the "inflight bites" is now available. This is a cool feature where passengers could just order snacks and drinks through the IFE system, and have it delivered to your seat by the crew! A very wide range of beverages are available, as well as 2 snack choices, and even some amenities!
And so we ordered snacks, a hot lemon tea and a ginger ale. They were promptly delivered after a few minutes. Not a fan of the corn chips, but the cookie was yummy!
Midflight a couple of hours after breakfast, New Zealand Natural chocolate ice-cream was served!
Ice cream with the Avengers.
Somewhere over mid-Australia after 2nd movie.
Starting on the 3rd movie while the sun gradually goes down.
Dinner service commenced about 2hrs out of AKL.
For dinner, the choices were (as announced) Morrocan chicken with polenta, or Fish curry with rice, served with a soba noodle salad, cheese and crackers, roll with butter and a passionfruit mousse dessert I grabbed a water and white wine to go with dinner.
As the Morrocan chicken had run out, I was offered a chicken breast main instead (probably from a special meal menu). Surprisingly, the chicken breast was moist and juicy, and the accompanying vegetables crisp and fresh.
Soba salad was good.
Dessert was ok, though because I am not a big fan of soury desserts.
The other choice of Fish curry with rice, though visually unappealing, was actually, like most curries in the air, delicious!
Visit to the lav at the mid-cabin, which was 'library-themed'.
Before descending into Auckland, the crew came around with lollies. The crew along our side got a young 'cabin crew' to help in the distribution.
Nearing to Auckland.
We flew over the city of Auckland during the descend.
Final approach and landing in Auckland Rwy23L slightly ahead of schedule.
Disembarking and passing the all-white business class cabin.
Immigration and customs were swift as there were not many arrivals at this time of the evening. After clearing both, we looked for the bus stand for the Yellow Bus to the airport hotels. We would only be staying a night near the airport as we would be catching another flight the next day to Wellington. Aftr a 10min bus ride, we reached Holiday Inn Auckland Airport for the night.
The hotel has a cosy reception and fireplace.
The room was big, cosy and comfortable. Perfect for a night's stay.
The hotel rate included breakfast, which was a pretty extensive buffet selection.
Explored the hotel grounds before checking out. The hotel has a very resort feel and very spacious.
Air New Zealand
SATS Premier Lounge
Singapore - SIN
Auckland - AKL
It was an enjoyable long-haul flight on Air New Zealand. The crew were friendly and responsive though it was a pretty tiring schedule for them (learnt that they only had 26hrs layover in SIN). Catering was above average with plentiful quantity and of good quality. Loved the F&B ordering system through the IFE. IFE selection was great (though no inflight wifi available), and sufficient amenities were provided. The ambience of the Dreamliner, with huge windows and higher humidity, made for a better flight experience though the 3-3-3 configuration seemed a tad squeezy, though personally I think it was not as bad as the 3-4-3 configuration on the 777s. Air New Zealand certainly ranks highly among the airlines I have flew on.
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