Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Zealand December 2011 - Air New Zealand 5 Business Premier (LAX-AKL)

***This post is part 4 of a full trip report. The index can be found here*** 

Air New Zealand 5
Boeing 747-400
Los Angeles (LAX) - Auckland (AKL)
Saturday December 17, 2011
Departure: 10:00 PM (scheduled) / 10:00 PM (actual)
Arrival: 7:50 AM (scheduled) / 7:40 AM (actual)
Duration: 12h 50m (scheduled) / 12h 40m (actual)
Seat: 5A (Business Premier)

I entered the Boeing 747-400 behind row 15 and immediately made a left into the Business Premier cabin. The first section consisted of a 1-2-1 configuration. Despite being the older business seats (newest versions can be found on their 777-300ER), everything still looked quite modern and immaculate.

I walked through the forward galley and made my way to seat 5A in the nose of the 747-400, my favorite part of the plane! This Business Premier section is noticeably roomier and more private. I specifically chose 5A because it has the most space in front of the seat, and is also far enough away from the galley and lavatory. Amenity kits and menus were already placed on the footrests.

The seat itself is very comfortable, with plenty of padding and shoulder space. There is also a wide area to the side where you can place an array of small items such as cameras, phones, purses, etc. The armrest to one side can be lowered for sleeping, though I chose to lower it the entire time for extra space. The only other storage area in the seat is a cubby-hole underneath the footrest where you can place small bags, but it was definitely not large enough to hold a carry-on roller, or even my backpack for that matter. Most carry-ons still had to go in the overhead compartment during take-off and landing.

Like all herringbone designs, the screen is mounted in the divider, and can be pulled out and adjusted. The remote is right underneath and is easy enough to navigate. In-seat power is a little hidden, but can be found if you reach inside the magazine cubby (below the remote) to one side. The biggest complaint I had about the entertainment system was the absolutely horrendous quality of the screen. I tried watching several movies, but for any scene that was even slightly darker (indoors, nighttime), it was literally impossible to make out what was going on - the blacks were completely washed out. I finally gave up and started listening to music. Initially, I thought it was an isolated problem with my screen, but as I found out on the return flight, this appears to be a common issue with all the older Business Premier systems.

I must say, the lady serving us during this flight was one of the friendliest, most helpful flight attendants I've ever come across. She always had a smile on her face, and was proactive in almost every aspect of the flight service. Before departure, she sat down with each passenger and explained the basics of the seat and entertainment system, and made sure we had everything we needed. A hot towel and pre-departure drinks were also served. I had some orange juice since I wasn't feeling like imbibing in alcohol yet.

Soon after take-off, dinner orders were taken and the large tray tables were set-up for service. The dinner menu was as follows:


Fast Dine
  • Roast vine ripened tomato, miso and sweet potato soup, offered with tofu, radish and nori (vegetarian)
  • Chocolate raspberry ganache with vanilla mascarpone cream
To Begin
  • Five spiced chicken with cucumber spaghetti, daikon, papaya salsa and sesame ginger dressing
From the Bakery
  • Garlic bread, black olive bread and wholegrain sourdough bread
Main Course
  • Red wine braised beef short rib with shiitake and lentils, smoked beets and wilted spinach
  • Pan seared cod on quinoa, olive and mint tabouleh with green beans and cherry tomatoes, roast tomato, caper and capsicum salad
  • Wood roasted chicken breast with feta and chive potato mash, bell peppers, broccolini and salsa verde
To Finish
  • Gourmet dessert of strawberry ice cream and pineapple and coconut ice cream with mango coulis
Cheese and Fruit
  • Fine New Zealand cheese and fresh seasonal fruit
Hot Drinks
  • Freshly brewed or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate
Self-Service Snacks
  • Help yourself from our range of snacks available for you to enjoy during your flight

There was also a wine guide included with the menu, but the booklet is way too long for me to type out in its entirety! Needless to say, they had a great selection of New Zealand and international wines to try on board. The standard drinks menu was as follows:


  • The premium wine selection on board this flight has been chosen by our wine consultants: John Belsham of Foxes Island Wines, Kate Radburnd of CJ Pask Winery and Jim Harre, nationally recognised wine judge. For details of our onboard wines, refer to your Air New Zealand Wine Guide.
New Zealand Sparkling Wine
  • Fresh, bright, lifted nose with toasty notes. The palate shows strawberry and lemon with rich yeast flavours. Elegant and well balanced with a long, lingering aftertaste.
  • G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge, France - The bubbles are rich on the palate, but never over-powering. The perfect balance is combined with a rounded, full vinosity. The mix of fresh fruit and caramel aromas give even more intensity to the finish. This is a subtly balanced wine with a remarkable capacity to linger in the mouth.
  • Glenfiddich Malt Whisky, Chivas Regal Blended Whisky, Jack Daniel's Black Label, Gordons Gin, 42Below Vodka, Courvoisier VSOP, Coruba Rum, Ron Bacardi Superior.
Port and Liqueurs
  • Portuguese Port, Grand Marnier, Baileys Irish Cream.
  • A selection of beer featuring Steinlager Pure, Export Gold, Heineken, and low alcohol lager.
Cold Drinks
  • Mineral water, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, cola, lemonade, L&P (sparkling lemon drink), tonic water, ginger ale, diet cola and diet lemonade.
Hot Drinks
  • Freshly brewed coffee, decaffeinated coffee, English Breakfast tea, chamomile tea, lemon and ginger tea, decaffeinated tea, raspberry and peach, apple and blackcurrant, Earl Grey tea, peppermint tea, jasmine green tea, hot chocolate.

The five spiced chicken appetizer was delicious. I selected the pan-seared cod for my main since I preferred something a little lighter, and it was great as well. There wasn't a whole lot of flavor in the dish, but add just a touch of the sea salt and pepper, and it was perfect. I absolutely love coconut ice cream, so dessert was amazing, especially with the mango sauce. What's funny was the flight attendant brought out my dessert course along with a glass of the Forrest Noble Riesling and insisted that I try some, saying that it would go well together. I hadn't had any alcohol yet during the dinner service, so I gladly accepted. It was indeed delicious. Finally, she also brought out the cheese and fruit course with a glass of port. Who am I to say no? ;)

I was absolutely stuffed by now, so I lingered for a bit, listening to music. After the table had been cleared, I went to the lavatory to change into something more comfortable while the wonderful flight attendant converted my seat into a bed. The lavatory was standard sized, and was actually rather difficult to change in. They did have some nice organic Pacifica lotion and cleanser products for passenger use though.

Unlike other herringbone designs, Air New Zealand Business Premier seats actually fold forward to connect with the foot rest. Hence, the back of the seat forms the bed. While the back material is rather hard, a nicely padded sleeping mattress is used to lay on top, which was extremely comfortable. Add in a soft duvet and pillow, and you've got yourself quite a perfect bed in the sky. I slept for a good five or six hours without interruption afterwards.

As the lights came back on about two hours prior to landing, I got up and changed into my regular clothes and placed the seat back up. I was offered a refreshing fruit smoothie as a starter. Soon after, breakfast service started. The menu was as follows:


Fast Dine Breakfast
  • Please let your flight attendant know if you like to sleep-in and we will wake you as late as possible and offer you a hot bacon roll and a beverage of your choice
Wake-up Drinks
  • Start your day with a fruit smoothie, your choice of juice, freshly brewed or decaffeinated coffee, tea, herbal tea or hot chocolate
Light Breakfast
  • A bowl of cereal topped with yoghurt and fresh fruit is available as a lighter option
Full Breakfast
  • Fruit and cereals will be offered followed by a hot bakery selection and your choice of hot breakfast
  • Fresh fruit salad
  • Fruit or plain yoghurt
  • Granola and muesli or Raisin Bran cereal, Weet-Bix, Cornflakes
From the Bakery
  • Croissants, wholemeal and fruit toast with fruit conserve
From the Stove
  • Cheddar and chive scrambled eggs with chicken and sun dried tomato sausage, herbed potato and tomato
  • Belgian waffles, strawberries in raspberry sauce, and freshly whipped banana cream
  • Hot bacon roll - a warmed roll, buttered and filled with grilled bacon, offered with caramelised onion jam and barbecue sauce

I selected the full breakfast along with the scrambled eggs, and everything was delicious. I especially liked the plain tart yogurt that was served with the fruit and muesli. Initial descent began soon after breakfast was cleared, and the turnaround along the coast and final approach gave some pretty spectacular first views of New Zealand. All I can say is, it's very green! Landing was smooth, and the flight attendants allowed all Business Premier passengers to disembark before Premium Economy and Economy passengers.

All in all, this was a perfect introduction to Air New Zealand for me. The seat and bed were top-notch, service was better than any other business product I've ever experienced, and the food was terrific. I really can't ask for much more, except maybe a better screen next time so I can actually watch a movie.

Here's a quick run-down of the amenity kit. The highlight is probably the quirky socks that were included. They are meant to be disposable so the quality isn't great, but the colors sure are interesting. There are also three small samples of La Prairie skin care products, including moisturizer, eye cream, and lip balm. Finally, all the other essentials like an eye shade, toothbrush/toothpaste, ear plug, and pen are there are well.


  1. You can press the 'B' button on the controller to adjust screen brightness.

  2. Oops, if that was the quick solution, then it was my own stupid mistake! It looked more like a contrast issue with the washed-out blacks on screen though. I'll just have to try again next time I fly ANZ. Thx for the tip!