It’s worth saying that for travellers from Hong Kong, Air New Zealand has much better schedules if you’re going somewhere other than Auckland City. (That said, if you go to Auckland City, Cathay Pacific might have a slight edge for the return flight.) Same for our Kiwi readers – while both CX 197 or NZ 80 will work for your inbound flight, your outbound flight definitely works best on NZ 87 (possibly CX 118 in the winter, if you’re close enough to the airport to depart that early), where you don’t have to arrive at night.
CX 197 HKG – AKL 21:05 – 12:00 343
CX 198 AKL – HKG 13:25 – 21:10 343
NZ 080 HKG – AKL 19:10 – 10:00 772
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 23:00 – 06:30 772
CX 117 HKG – AKL 15:25 – 07:30 343
CX 118 AKL – HKG 08:55 – 15:20 343
CX 197 HKG – AKL 21:00 – 13:05 343
CX 198 AKL – HKG 14:30 – 21:00 343
NZ 080 HKG – AKL 19:20 – 11:15 772
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 23:59 – 06:05 772
Conclusion: Air New Zealand here.
Redemption with miles
Both airlines codeshare each other, so the same number of seats will be released. That said, CX (I don’t know about Air New Zealand since I don’t have Airpoints) releases ridiculously few seats on both flights, that’s why we were stuck in economy. (Premium Economy didn’t have award space either since the whole cabin was full on both flights, but neither airline has Premium Economy seats much better than Economy, so I can live with that.)
Conclusion: I don’t have enough mileage experience to make a conclusion here. However it’s a draw, since it’s the same booking system.
I prefer the A340-300 cabin to the 777-200 cabin for a 2-4-2 layout, since we usually travel in a family of 4 and we can sit in pairs (we usually take the window seats) instead of leaving someone in the middle row. That said I like the 777 curvature.
Conclusion: On this route, a slight preference to CX for the hard product, although I do like Air New Zealand’s 777 curvature.
Cathay’s notorious seat isn’t that bad (as I mentioned in my review), but Air New Zealand really deserves credit for a seat that doesn’t recline in a shell, as well as a wider seat. (Well, that’ll change when Air New Zealand retrofits their new 777-200, which will probably have a 3-4-3 layout albeit having the Skycouch.) I tell you, 2 extra recline inches makes a huge difference.
Cathay Pacific seats in reclined position (both of these seats are)
Air New Zealand seat fully reclined
Legroom is ample on Air New Zealand too – while I couldn’t really cross my legs on Cathay Pacific’s economy class, Air New Zealand’s economy seat allowed me to cross my legs even when the seat in front was reclined.
There’s enough of my leg there to give you an idea how much leg space there is – it isn’t much
The seat in front of me is reclined here…
While they may have the same seat pitch, Cathay’s seat is definitely wider (Air New Zealand has a slimline seat and CX even has an inch thick shell).
That said, overall seat comfort is better on Cathay Pacific when added pillows – Air New Zealand’s seat has good lumbar support but the support is hard, and adding pillows gives too much lumbar support making the back lose some support, if you know what I’m saying. It’s not that CX’s seat was the best economy seat in the world, it’s just that Air New Zealand didn’t have enough padding.
Not much padding seen here
Conclusion: While Cathay Pacific has better padding, Air New Zealand has better recline – however, for me, it was a slight edge for Cathay Pacific (an extra inch of recline actually meant an extra pillow down my back than anything else).
(To me, nothing matters more than inflight entertainment and seat comfort, which, for the former, speeds the time more than 2x, and for the latter, gives me better sleep – which also speeds the time more than 2x.)
Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX and Air New Zealand’s Kia Ora both have awesome video selections, but I applaud to StudioCX for having a less laggy entertainment system. On the other hand, Air New Zealand offers entertainment on the ground.
Slight preference to Air New Zealand’s actually informative airshow, admittedly it’s a minor thing
Cathay Pacific airshow
Air New Zealand entertainment
Cathay Pacific entertainment
Conclusion: Albeit Air New Zealand offering IFE from the ground, CX takes the edge for faster loading and better music selection.
Admittedly it’s a minor point, but Cathay’s lavatories are much more spacious than the puny Air New Zealand ones, and offer hand lotion while Air New Zealand only offers soap.
Apologies for deleting the picture of the whole lavatory
Air New Zealand Economy lavatory
Conclusion: Cathay Pacific takes the round this time.
Cathay Pacific definitely has delicious food (at least they did for dinner, if not so much during breakfast).
Cathay Pacific dinner (I forgot to take a picture of Air New Zealand dinner, but they did offer New Zealand ice cream)
Cathay Pacific breakfast (sour egg but good meat)
Air New Zealand breakfast (good egg when eaten with sausage but slightly lacking compared to Cathay)
Dinner on both airlines were good – but CX has a slight preference since NZ was a bit bland on their orange chicken. Breakfast on both airlines were mediocre – although the egg was inedible on Cathay Pacific and everything was edible on Air New Zealand, the flavourful meat made up and won over the bland but edible Air New Zealand meal.
Conclusion: Cathay wins Air New Zealand here.
While Air New Zealand was generally good in service this flight, Cathay Pacific was much better service-wise (Air New Zealand’s crew were invisible during the night, which is understandable but different from Cathay Pacific whose crew were pushing trolleys around and offering blankets and pillows throughout the flight).
Conclusion: Cathay wins by a long streak here.
Conclusion of conclusions
Although it looks like Cathay has won here based on the conclusions, that’s true, but they’re not actually that far ahead. Air New Zealand has a solid product, with good recline and good (though not great) service. Although I’d give a slight preference to Cathay for onboard experience alone, I encourage people to travel to and from Auckland like how I did (both Hong Kong and Auckland travellers) – Cathay there, Air New Zealand back. No matter what class you’re in, I suggest you do that, just to try things out.
Later, I’ll be posting a Dragonair A320 vs A330 comparison.