Flight Test: Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand economy class, A320.
Route Melbourne to Christchurch.
Aircraft Airbus A320.
Seat configuration 3-3.
Class There's no talk of first, business or economy on this flight. It's "Seat", "Seat+Bag", "The Works" and "The Works Deluxe". I'm in the second-tier "The Works" category, which includes meals, drinks, seat allocation and movies. (Business class is included only on wide-bodied 767, 777 and 747 aircraft between Australia and New Zealand).
Scheduled flight time 3 hours, 25 minutes.
Seat width and pitch Seventeen inches wide with a pitch of 30-34 inches. Perfectly comfortable for this distance.
Service The meals for passengers who have them included in the premium Works or Works Deluxe categories are rolled out quickly. They smell so good the Seat and Seat+Bag passengers must be rueing their choice to go cheap. But at least they can order snacks, hot and cold drinks and alcohol from the seat-back screen with the swipe of a credit card. The onscreen snack menu includes an Indonesian salad ($7), beef pie ($5), Coke ($3) and a Speight's beer ($6). The system works well. After my meal and wine, I order a Coke (free to me because the snack menu is included in my fare) and it is brought within a minute. I like the system because it saves you trying to catch the eye of a flight attendant whizzing by.
Food and drinks Part of the deal for Works and Works Deluxe passengers. The oriental chicken with chilli plum sauce, steamed rice, pak choy and braised carrots is as good as it smells. There's a side of blanched potato and chickpeas. I'm sure the "other" classes are peering over the seat backs with jealousy.
Luggage Seven-kilogram carry-on bag and 23-kilogram checked bag. Ample for a winter wardrobe that includes some heavy ski clothing.
In-flight entertainment Seat-back screens have current movies, television, music and games, which are included in my ticket. Great entertainment also comes from the safety video. It has a quirky Hobbit theme in which orcs and elves encourage passengers to put on seatbelts. This follows the equally quirky safety videos, which feature cabin crew wearing nothing but body paint and an animation featuring famous characters.
Lounge access Not included in The Works package, but you can get it if you pay more and opt for The Works Deluxe.
Comfort Seats, service, punctuality and entertainment meld to make for a good flight. Flying should always be like this.
Flight frequency Air New Zealand has a fare to Christchurch from Sydney and Melbourne for about $400 return, including tax. Daily flights fly non-stop in 3hr 20min.
Online See airnewzealand.com.au.
Tested by Robert Upe