Impressive ... Air New Zealand. Photo: Jim Rice
Route Sydney to Napier, via Auckland.
Aircraft Airbus A320 to Auckland, ATR 72-500 to Napier.
Class Economy 8A "The Works".
Flight time 3hr 5min to Auckland, a comfortable stop of 1hr 50min, then 1hr to Napier.
Seat pitch and width Pitch (the space between a seat and the seat in front ) is 33 inches, which is reasonable legroom for a short-haul flight, as long as you don't tuck a bag under the seat in front. Width (the distance from armrest to armrest) is 17 inches.
Seat configuration 3-3 for 168 economy-class seats. Seats recline two inches, have an adjustable winged headrest and are comfortable.
Safety announcement The safety video is as entertaining as it is informative because it's crammed with rugby puns and antics (and is a perfect opportunity to remind passengers that New Zealand won the World Cup). The video features All Blacks players and the coach and it puts me in a good mood to fly.
Levels of economy There are four: "A Seat" (one carry-on bag of up to seven kilograms, entertainment system with TV, music and games); "A Seat + Bag" (with one checked bag to 23 kilograms); "The Works" (with an in-flight meal and beverage service, children's meal and activity pack, plus seat request and movies); and "Works Deluxe" (two checked bags, lounge access).
Entertainment Impressive. There are 33 films (family, drama, action, comedy, new releases), a decent selection of television shows, huge variety of music (673 albums) and 17 video games to choose from using the touchscreen or console. I take the "How I Work" tutorial and am soon mesmerised by the "Air Show" option, which features all manner of flight statistics and 3D graphics.
Service Courteous and helpful. The meals, drinks and snacks appear at regular intervals.
Food and beverages There's no breakfast meal card and it's hard to hear the announcement about options. In any case, I enjoy salty scrambled eggs, small chicken sausage, hash brown and tomato, served piping hot, with a side serving of cut-up orange and pineapple. I'm also served coffee in a cup that bears a photo of All Black forward Kieran Read and his player stats.
Flight frequency 34 flights a week between Sydney and Auckland; 22 flights between Melbourne and Auckland (both of which include code-share flights with Virgin Australia); 50 return flights a week Auckland-Napier. Return fares to Napier from Sydney cost from $623; Melbourne from $746, including tax.
Tested by Daniel Fallon, who flew courtesy of Air New Zealand.