Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Zealand December 2011 - Air New Zealand 619 Economy Class (AKL-ZQN)

***This post is part 6 of a full trip report. The index can be found here*** 

We decided to catch the Airbus public transit back to the airport since the pickup point was fairly close to our hotel. Also, at 16 NZD per person, it was the cheapest option! Unfortunately, we had booked a flight departing AKL at 7:10 am, so we dragged ourselves out of bed before sunrise and arrived at the bus stop by 5:00 am. I must say though, it was kind of serene walking the empty streets of Auckland in the wee hours of the morning.

Queen Street at 5:00 am

Domestic check-in for Air New Zealand is entirely self-service. Even the baggage tags are printed out at the kiosks and self-applied. There were only two employees next to the bag drop area in case any issues arose. It always amazes me how quick and easy security check is outside of the U.S. No need to take out the toiletries, remove shoes, or even belts. We arrived at the gate fairly early, and I was able to do some plane spotting - although it was clear that this was Air New Zealand territory :)

Air New Zealand 619
Airbus A320
Auckland (AKL) - Queenstown (ZQN)
Wednesday December 21, 2011
Departure: 7:10 AM (scheduled) / 7:16 AM (actual)
Arrival: 9:00 AM (scheduled) / 8:57 AM (actual)
Duration: 1h 50m (scheduled) / 1h 41m (actual)
Seat: 27D (Economy)

Boarding was via stairs, which I love since it gives me an extra opportunity to snap photos. Unfortunately, it seems New Zealand airports have a rule where no pictures are allowed on the open tarmac. Not sure why that is, but I was warned to shut off my camera when a ground crew noticed.

Once on board, I noticed how new this aircraft was. It reminded me of the beautiful A321-200 I flew on US Airways back in November. The seats were very comfortable, with a decent 31" pitch. If you haven't already seen Air New Zealand's famous safety videos, go to YouTube and do a quick search, they're quite hilarious. Their latest video combines the recent Richard Simmons disco version with the older Bare Essentials of Safety and the All Blacks versions.

I was thoroughly impressed with Air New Zealand's service on my previous flight, and this flight was no different, even in economy. The flight attendants were very friendly, and even chatted with us about our travels through New Zealand. I was surprised they served a breakfast snack on such a short flight - the choices were muesli with yogurt, cereal bar, or danish.

As we approached Queenstown, I realized how unfortunate it was that I had picked an aisle seat. From the little that I could see, there were some spectacular views outside. I was only able to get one photo, and it was thanks to the gentleman in the window seat to whom I passed my camera and embarrassingly asked to take one for me. I think he did a pretty good job actually :) Later, I found out that ZQN affords passengers with some of the best landing views of any airport in the world. Bummer... next time I'll make sure I get a window seat!

Window seat guy took this photo for me - descent into ZQN

We disembarked via stairs again, and again, the no camera rule was enforced. Although they did allow us to take a few photos once we reached the concrete area right next to the gate entrance. ZQN has a beautiful setting, and it reminded me a little of the Ushuaia airport at the southern tip of South America. Baggage came out quickly and we were soon on our way to Queenstown.

No comments:

Post a Comment