After a bumpy start at check-in, things smoothed out in the air.
The first flights I ever took overseas were with Air New Zealand, and the experience I had at that time left me with a very good impression of the airline. So earlier this year, when I was looking at flight options for a winter escape to Canada and the US, I jumped at the opportunity to travel with Air New Zealand again for a bargain price. This meant my first flight was from Melbourne to Auckland, which seemed like a nice, short leg to start with before my longer flight to North America.
Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed with Air New Zealand this time around. The check-in process at Melbourne was a DIY affair but the kiosks didn’t want to take my booking details (maybe because I booked through a travel agent? I still don’t know).
While an Air New Zealand staff member quickly came to my aid, she then asked for both my US and Canadian visa-waivers, took ages to check them, and then went over to another staff member with my passport. They both looked a bit confused and didn’t explain anything to me, which made me panic a bit. Finally, they explained that they’d had trouble getting one of my connecting flights released but now I was good to go. Thankfully, the flight itself offered a much more relaxed experience.
- Route: Melbourne to Auckland
- Duration: 3 hours 35 minutes
- Flight number(s): NZ722
- Aircraft type: Airbus A320
- Dates travelled: 11 June 2018
- Class: Economy (The Works)
- Frequent flyer program: Velocity
- Frequent flyer points: 824 points, 20 status credits
My review, in short
- Actual on-time departure and landing
- Super smooth flight with no turbulance
- Friendly service
- Confusion at the check-in which had me stressed about my flight
- Limited frequent flyer perks as Air New Zealand no longer codeshares with Virgin Australia
What did I like?
- On-time departure and landing. We boarded on time and, despite being a pretty full flight, I found it easy to get to my seat. I was also happy we disembarked quickly when we arrived in Auckland.
- Smooth flight. While excellent flying could easily go unnoticed, I really appreciated the skills of the pilots, who started with an easy take-off, kept things cruisey in the air and landed with precision.
- Friendly in-flight refreshment service. When the team came through with complimentary drinks and a snack (which you only get in economy when you book "The Works"), I wasn't hungry. But the flight attendant serving me went out of his way to offer me other options as well, which was a nice touch.
What didn’t I like?
- Confusion at check-in. I don't usually get anxious before flying, but not being told what was going on really stressed me out.
- Limited frequent flyer perks. Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand ended their alliance earlier this year, which has had a flow-on effect for me as a Velocity member. While I could have signed up for Air New Zealand's Airpoints program, it's not really worth it when I hardly ever fly to New Zealand. So I felt like I missed out on earning more points, status credits and other perks as a result.
Would I use Air New Zealand again?
All up, I took four flights with Air New Zealand as part of this trip and some were much better than others. So, yes, I would fly with the airline again – but I’d probably look very closely at other options first.
Bonus tip: Make the most of early check-in by visiting a lounge
If, like me, you’re someone who prefers to check in for flights as early as possible, check out the lounges at Melbourne’s international terminal for a more relaxed wait before boarding. There are two you can pay to visit – the Plaza Premium and Maharba – as well as an Air New Zealand lounge if you’re booked on an eligible fare (business or higher). If you have an eligible American Express card, you can also get complimentary access to the Amex lounge that opened earlier this year.
Want to try out Air New Zealand? Here are the latest deals:
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Picture: Ryan Fletcher/Shutterstock