Some time ago I wrote about good Air New Zealand fares from London. I booked one of these roundtrip to LA in their Business Class product – Business Premier. I have flown this before several years ago on their other ex-London route to Hong Kong. The bed is the same as Virgin uses which flips down to make a flat surface, but with NZ using the 777-300 to LA I was keen to try them again.
NZ uses check-in’s in the centre of Terminal 1 at Heathrow, just behind the United First Class check-in. I had to wait no more than 2 minutes for a check-in desk to open. There is no online check-in with NZ so you have to see an agent. He enquired about my first night address in the US, weighed my hand baggage and then directed me to Fast Track and the Star Alliance Lounge.
Not every airline gives access to the business class passengers and elite members, but NZ does. Although there was a problem with the passenger in front’s boarding pass from United. That required the airport staff to have to chat to each other to work out why his boarding pass was rejected. This was resolved after 5 minutes and by the time I got to the dedicated xray machine there was no one in line and I was though in 2 minutes. Shoes remained on.
NZ uses the Star Alliance Lounge at T1. I have not been here for several months and noticed that the food selection has slimmed down – no more curries, just a more limited range that resembles DimSum rather than proper food. Good selection of sandwiches.
Terminal 1 is still suffering from the loss of gates due to the new Terminal 2 construction and so NZ had the furthest gate from the terminal. Almost directly across from the Star Alliance lounge, but nonetheless, a fifteen minute brisk walk. You can do a little plan spotting on the way:
The flight was boarding when I arrived. I was delighted to see that the 777-300 operating the route was in the All Blacks livery, which I have to say is one the classiest liveries I have seen. The staff told me that it weighed 2 tonnes more as a result of the paint job.
Once on board I took my seat (1A) after storing my bags in the bins. The plane has the standard 777 bins and with relatively small numbers of seats there was plenty of space.
The cabin itself has mood lighting and each seat was fitted out with pillow, duvet etc.
There was plenty of legroom for me, with my feet reaching the edge of the ottoman:
There was a pre-departure drink, newspapers were available and the crew stopped by to hand out menus and to take post-departure drink orders. We left the gate on time and taxied off to the runway. The scenic tour of Heathrow allowed me to see a couple of planes parked away from the terminals. It is a bit tricky as the window is effectively behind you when facing forwards.
Soon after take off our amenity kits, bottle of water and first drink were delivered to our seats. The entertainment system works from the ground and has a significant number of movies and TV series. Including, I noticed the whole of the first two series of ‘Glee’ and 4 episodes of series three. More than enough! Lots of ‘Bones’ and CSI too.
I chose the prawns to start, Lamb shank for main, apple and blackcurrant torte and cheese. (No pictures of the torte as it was eaten before I remember to take one!)
The food fresh, hot and well presented.
After a couple of hours I decided to have a nap. No pajamas as provide by NZ which several of the other passengers seemed to know as they popped off to the loo to change. There are three loos for the Business cabin and there never seemed to be a wait for more than a few minutes. When I came out of the loo at one point just as the Purser was exiting the flight deck there was a startled expression on his face, not because he was concerned about security, rather than we managed to time it at the exact same moment.
The bed comes with a mattress topper, duvet and blanket and is very comfortable.
In flight you can order drinks and snacks from the video screen so I took great delight in ordering a Perrier and two chocolate bars – what more can you ask – a comfy bed and on-demand chocolate.
There was a second meal which I avoided – as I often do and so cannot report on.
We got in to LAX a little early and had to wait for the gate to become available at Terminal 2. Unfortunately this meant we were behind a TACA plane which caused a good line at Immigration as most of those passengers seemed to have visas. Transfer passengers were seperated at the door of the aircraft and had to hand in their Duty Free to the staff if it was larger than 100ml. However, in under 20 minutes I was out of Immigration and Customs and a short walk delivered me to the Radisson, my bed for the night.
A first rate experience, a good crew, nice food, as much Champagne as I could consume and on-demand chocolate. Heaven.