Air New Zealand at LAX – Check-in, Lounge and NZ2 to London

Some weeks ago I wrote about a great experience aboard Air New Zealand’s flight from London to LA – NZ1.

I have to say that the return, which I undertook yesterday was not such a good experience, at least in my view.

Check-In

The Air New Zealand web site states that you must check-in no later than 2 hours before departure. However, it does not say at what time check-in opens at LAX. I can tell you it’s three hours before departure. When I arrived at check-in in Terminal 2 at LAX about 3 hrs and 15 mins before departure, the queue was out of the door and on to the pavement. It became clear quite quickly that the line was really for Economy passengers, with Business and Premium Economy line being to the right of the main area, and only had about 10 people in.

Once the counters opened people seemed to have a tonne of baggage – multiple huge boxes and bags were checked-in. My carry on was weighed and accepted at 9kg when it should really only weigh 7kgs.

Security

The TSA experience was as lovely as ever – with the body scanners in use I am afraid to report. There is a separate elite line for First and Business but the TSA agent checking the boarding passes checked everything twice causing the line to be really slow.

Lounge

There are two Star Alliance lounges in T2 – Air Canada and Air New Zealand. I remember being in the NZ lounge some years ago and it has not changed significantly. It is however, going to close when the changes to Thomas Bradley International Terminal at LAX are finished. That will be a shame as NZ moving to TBIT will mean having to immigrate in one of the most soul destroying facilities in the US.

So enjoy the lounge whilst you can if you are going through T2 soon.

Located on the First Floor, you either have to use a lift and then walk across a walkway or carry your bags up a flight of stairs. At the lounge you are greeted by an agent who scans the boarding pass, passes out the WiFi code and then tells you the time for boarding.

Lounge

The lounge is divided in to a number of areas, and by boarding time it felt that every seat was taken.

Entrance in distance

Food Area

The food consisted of cold cuts, cheese, and fruit. There was also a soup cauldron and staff walked the room offering hot chicken wings at one point. There are two large fridges of soft drinks, wine and alcohol readily available.

Pile of chips/crisps

Work Area

At about 4pm we were called to board.

Boarding NZ2

Passengers with disabilities were boarded first, followed by passengers with young children and then it was time for Business Class to board. It was a considerable walk to the plane as the gate used was not where the plane was parked. After boarding the staff were very helpful and assisted everyone to find their seat.

Onboard

At each seat was the menu, wine list, amenity kit and headphones. The entertainment system works on the ground and so I could start the movie I wanted to see before we pushed back.

NZ2 Menu

The staff came around whilst boarding with drinks – water, Orange Juice and champagne. They also took menu choices on the ground.

Push back

We had to wait some time for an Air France A380 and some other planes to pull past us before we could take off, but as T2 is a very short taxi to the runway we were not really delayed.

In flight

I have to say this is where things started to go wrong. It took nearly 30 minutes to get a drink to my seat after take off, a further 60 minutes before the starter was served and about 90 minutes before my main turned up. With a flight time of 9 and 1/2 hours, and the staff saying they were going to wake us 2 hours before landing for breakfast I wanted to get to sleep.

The slow service, and yes they did wake us 2 hours before landing left very little time to enjoy the truly flat bed that NZ has.

I suspect this may be because of the way that through passengers are fed from Auckland, but I have to say if you want a decent sleep then avoiding NZ2 might be your best bet.

Arrival

We arrived on time, and had the normal 15 minute walk to Immigration where, despite the Olympics being over, there was no queue.

Summary

Not as good as NZ1 and I probably won’t do this again as I miss the sleep!

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Plane spotting from the Lounge

NZ plane being towed off stand

Virgin Atlantic Arrival

 

Comments

  1. Thanks for this report as I had been considering the NZ service. I like the NZ crew experience, but I am sure they might offer an executive dining option to get all your food at once, if you asked. I do this all the time on(exCO) UA flights from Houston or LAX and am done with my dinner before they serve the salad course in some cases and get some proper sleep! That turns my 9 hour flight from IAH into a 7 hour sleep with a coffee and pastry for breakfast, and on UA, they serve 60 mins prior to landing!

  2. @Ken – had I know how long it would take I would have asked for everything at once, it’s not offered in the menu in the way that UA does. I often take that option when I do UA. I agree, I like UA leaving it until 60 minutes before, although the NZ service is more elaborate.

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