Category Archives: Air New Zealand

Travel season ends for me…

My travel season is pretty much over for the year. Next time I see an airport, it should be February next year.

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We don’t go anywhere for Christmas (my dad’s job), and I’m still a schooling student, and I’m a good student who looks for at least a 100% attendance rate, and…

Continue reading Travel season ends for me…

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To Auckland – Cathay Pacific or Air New Zealand? (Economy Class)

Timetable

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.

Summer timings

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

Winter timings

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.

Cabin

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.

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A340 cabin

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Conclusion: On this route, a slight preference to CX for the hard product, although I do like Air New Zealand’s 777 curvature.

Seat

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.

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Cathay Pacific seats in reclined position (both of these seats are)

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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.

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There’s enough of my leg there to give you an idea how much leg space there is – it isn’t much

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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.

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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).

In-flight entertainment

(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.

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Slight preference to Air New Zealand’s actually informative airshow, admittedly it’s a minor thing

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Cathay Pacific airshow

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Air New Zealand entertainment

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Cathay Pacific entertainment

Conclusion: Albeit Air New Zealand offering IFE from the ground, CX takes the edge for faster loading and better music selection.

Toilets

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.

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Apologies for deleting the picture of the whole lavatory

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Air New Zealand Economy lavatory

Conclusion: Cathay Pacific takes the round this time.

Food

Cathay Pacific definitely has delicious food (at least they did for dinner, if not so much during breakfast).

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Cathay Pacific dinner (I forgot to take a picture of Air New Zealand dinner, but they did offer New Zealand ice cream)

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Cathay Pacific breakfast (sour egg but good meat)

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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.

Service

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.

End of my first trip report…

Earlier today I published my last installment of Down to Modern Middle-earth, my very first trip report. How was it? How did you feel about it?

A quick recap:

I travelled south to Auckland on February 1st, 2014 on Cathay Pacific Flight 197 in Economy, on an A340 with the old hard shell seats.

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Then I headed further south to Rotorua, where I stayed at the Treetops Lodge and Estate Rotorua for three nights, which was a spectacular hotel.

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I explored Rotorua in this period of time.

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On February 5th (Wednesday) we headed north to Paihia and explored the Bay of Islands, where we stayed at the Waterfront Suites Heritage Boutique Collection, which was kind of a mixed bag.

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We explored the Bay of Islands as well.

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Then we headed back to Auckland and took Air New Zealand Flight 087 in Economy in a polished but slightly old 777-200 back here to Hong Kong.

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Note: I’ll be doing some recaps on my trip reports too, so you can stay tuned for them as well.

I’ll be posting more trip reports when I can on this site. Hope you enjoy them!

Review: Down to Modern Middle-earth – NZ 087 Auckland to Hong Kong 777-200 Economy Class

Introduction
CX 197 HKG – AKL 343 Y
Treetops Lodge and Estate Rotorua
Exploring Rotorua
Waterfront Suites HBC Paihia
Exploring Paihia
Exploring Auckland
NZ 087 AKL – HKG 772 Y

Comfort 4/5 Service 3/5 Amenities 3/5 Little things 4/5 Meals 4/5 Overall 4/5

Cathay Pacific has a codeshare on this flight (CX 7402), so we decided to take this flight because of the better timing and seats that really recline. When going there we had to celebrate with our family (Year of the Horse), so we couldn’t really go so early at 7:05pm (the only NZ flight from HKG to AKL). When coming back the schedule was better for us, so we went with NZ.

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AKL Terminal

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NZ Check-in

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Looking into Premium Check-in

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On time!

We made it to Gate 2 with minutes to spare, and the ground crew let us go through Premium Boarding (since there were so many other passengers and all Business passengers had boarded, they split the queue).

Air New Zealand Flight 087
Saturday, February 8th, 2014
Origin: Auckland (AKL) Gate: 2 Dep: 23:59 (00:00)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 35 Arr: 06:05
+1 (05:50)
Duration: 11 hr 06 min (10 hr 50 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Seat: 44H (Economy Class)

Boarding was swift, and we waited a little for the rest of the passengers to go past the horrifyingly long economy queue as I tested out the seat.

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Premium Economy

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Premium Economy

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Premium Economy legrest

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Economy Class

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Economy Class

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Our seats

The entertainment system, I thought, was broken at my seat, but it restored quickly after the door closed.

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My entertainment screen upon boarding

The seats were noticeably wider than a Cathay Pacific A340’s, and I liked the curvature of the 777-200 cabin.

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Air New Zealand 777-200 Economy Cabin

Soon enough we were all settled, and the safety demonstration began. It was the nifty The Hobbit video, not the All Blacks video on the All Blacks Air New Zealand planes.

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Safety Demonstration

Takeoff was quite quick and we were in the air quickly. After takeoff a flight attendant roamed around the cabin asking “Would you like some water?” I declined.

Air New Zealand is quite humorous when it comes to advertising, and this was clearly seen:

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Vomit bag

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Vomit bag

I couldn’t resist taking a legroom shot.

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Ample legroom

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Ample legroom

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Cabin after takeoff

Unlike on Cathay, who actually has menus, Air New Zealand talked about the economy catering choices over the PA system. I ordered the orange chicken, which was…interesting. Sorry I forgot to take a picture…I was ready to crash at this point.

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Table (no power points)

Air New Zealand didn’t have wifi so checking Facebook/Twitter/Google+/Grindr wasn’t an option. Neither was working on my trip reports.

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AVOD Remote Control

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Airshow

Service during the night wasn’t really good. I didn’t see the cabin crew during the night. I know they have to rest, but this was in stark contrast to my Cathay Pacific flight (although on that flight they were just pushing trolleys.)

I didn’t really feel like watching a movie at this point, so I went on AVOD (which is the old, laggy Kia Ora system) and played a bit of Caveman.

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Caveman

The toilet was really, really small.

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Toilet

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All that for forgetting to turn off the seat belt sign!

I slept for a good 5 hours, and when I woke up breakfast was already being served. This was about 3 A.M. Hong Kong time. The choices were egg and something else that I have forgotten, and I went with the former.

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Breakfast

The egg was bland, although it went great with tomato sauce.

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Cabin during breakfast

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The angle of recline (still ample space in front of me)

A notable thing that happened during breakfast was the service. When I asked for a hot chocolate, instead of “Yes, we do. May I get some for you in the galley?” the flight attendant said “I’ll get you a hot chocolate.” This is economy class, but…

After that they took my breakfast tray but seeing I hadn’t finished my hot chocolate they gave it back to me. I had to bring it to the galley myself:

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Back cabin

Soon enough we were landing, and touched with a quiet “bump” at Hong Kong International Airport. And then we were on our way home…

Overall this was a good flight that could have been improved, and I can clearly see why Air New Zealand is a four star airline, nothing more or nothing less.