We live in Iceland and several of our family members live near Melbourne, Australia, so we decided to spend Christmas there. The two airports - Keflavík and Melbourne - are not exactly close to each other, the distance being 10,539 miles (about 17,000 kms). If there was a direct flight it would overfly Svalbard, Eastern Siberia, North-East China and Eastern Indonesia and it would take about 21 hours. But there's of course no direct flight. So how should we get there?
We knew we didn't want to fly economy and we didn't have the budget for most business class flights, so we had to look for an exceptionally good deal in business class. Connecting flights from Iceland to Africa, Asia or Australia are never good value. London, Copenhagen, Frankfurt or Germany are usually among the more expensive departure airports. Amsterdam or Paris can have better deals but none was available at that time.
We checked premium economy as well, and although Singapore Airlines' great premium economy was bookable at a reasonable price from Stockholm to Melbourne via Moscow and Singapore, we still hoped for a good price in business.
We considered for a long time, and we even held a booking for some time, to fly from Cairo. A CAI-MCT-KUL-MEL in business class was offered by Oman Air and Malaysia Airlines at a price similar to many economy class flights from Europe to Australia. But direct flights from Europe to Cairo are overpriced even in economy and connecting flights can have unfavorable schedules.
So what was the solution? Oslo is usually, maybe surprisingly for some of you, the cheapest airport for long-haul business class flights from Europe. And there came a promotional offer: Oslo to Perth with Qatar Airways and Auckland to Oslo with China Southern. Yes, we wanted to fly to Melbourne but why not to visit Western Australia for a few days? And yes, the return leg was from New Zealand but we could finally visit NZ as well - and the flight was even slightly cheaper than a return from Australia.
"Hello, we're a family of four and we have a non-modifiable booking for the flight to Auckland at 8pm. Can you rebook us to the 7pm flight at no extra charge?" "Let me see…, yes, no problem, here are your boarding passes!"
"Hi, we have four pieces of checked-in suitcase and one of them is a little bit heavier…" "No problem, just put it on the belt"
Am I dreaming? I'm at an airport, the Air New Zealand ground staff allows me (with a smile) to modify to my booking to the flight that leaves one hour earlier (we were about 80 minutes before scheduled departure). I'm allowed (with a smile) to check in my luggage with the extra weight. There's no queue at all at security and all staff are happy and smiling. Where am I?
The terminal building from the outside
The airport was not crowded and very pleasant when we were there
Most people check in here
And put their luggage on the belt here
The airport is easy to use
This is not a lounge but just a normal waiting area
Unusual wall decoration for an airport
Air New Zealand's main hub is Auckland and most passengers travelling from the South Island to Oceania or Asia need to take a connecting flight there. All flights from Christchurch to Auckland have only economy class but those who have a booking on business on their onward flight can use the Koru Lounge
The gate area also looks like a lounge but there's of course no free food
But there's a good choice of snacks, books and magazines here
Win a car for Christmas!
Air New Zealand does not have any turboprop aircrafts but its subsidiary operates 27 ATR 72's
Boarding started with some delays at 19.00 with a big smile of course and was completed by 19.10.
This A320-200 has a single class 3+3 configuration with all black seats
One of the best legrooms I had for a long time in economy
There are overhead screens.
Push-back was at 19.27 and take-off at 19.37 from runway for a scheduled departure time of 19.00.
Air New Zealand's on-board magazine
Air New Zealand's fleet
Tea, water or coffee and chips or cookie were offered free of charge
We landed at 20.40 and were at the bridge at 20.45 for a scheduled arrival time of 20.20.
Air New Zealand
Christchurch - CHC
Auckland - AKL
Overall an exceptionally positive airport experience thanks to the lovely Air New Zealand ground staff and the uncrowded and well designed Christchurch Airport. The flight itself was nice too with the best legroom I had in economy for a long time. The small delay was not an issue for me as I arrived anyway earlier than expected.
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