Air New Zealand Business Class Review

June 11, 2014

For some, flying Business Class overseas is a common occurence, but for most of the population it’s a treat that happens seldom. No matter what category you fall into, you the customer are paying more for Business Class and naturally you expect a faultless and pleasant experience.

I was excited to test the long haul Business Class product on Air New Zealand after hearing very positive reports from our website viewers. Could this airline really be “that good”? The moment I stepped on board and was greeted with a champagne, hot towel and personalised welcome I knew immediately that there was something different about this airline – they had an energy, an edge and I immediately liked what I saw.

Whilst this review centres around Air New Zealand’s Business Premier Class, in the coming weeks we will also be presenting our review of Premium Economy and Economy to demonstrate why Air New Zealand is quite simply, world class.

Customer service
There is no denying that Air New Zealand’s strength that sets them apart at “the pointy end of the plane” is their cabin crew. Whilst I was travelling as a guest of the airline the cabin crew had no idea I was reviewing the flight and the exemplary customer service I received was clearly received by every single passenger in that cabin. The crew are quite simply professional, passionate, helpful and friendly beyond belief. They like their jobs, they like the company they work for and they are proud of what they do and how they do it. One passenger summed it up perfectly when he said “I sometimes need to travel for work on another airline that has basically the same seat/bed, food and in flight entertainment but they don’t have the wonderfully consistent cabin crew that Air New Zealand has and they’re what make the experience special and make me come back time and time again”.
The cabin crew are intuitive and know how to relate to a passenger and meet their needs without the passenger even having to ask. The crew knew I was exhausted on one leg and without even asking how I felt they suggested I should move to a spare seat further back so the noise of the galley wouldn’t bother me. They also picked up that another passenger drank a lot of water and they come around with water bottles before the current one was even empty. Wine glasses were never empty and LED candles were available to those dining together to create a “romantic restaurant in the sky”. I found it very amusing when the crew member delivered my fatty breakfast bacon roll with caramelised onions and said “ma’am – here is the low fat breakfast option you ordered”. The crew have personality, a sense of humour and a warmth about them that you just don’t encounter on every airline. You leave the flight feeling like you have made five or six new friends. Customer service can be so “hit and miss” in this industry but you don’t have to worry about that here, this airline epitomise exactly what Business Class service should be.

Seats and Cabin
The Business Class seats are arranged in a fishbone or herringbone configuration meaning every passenger has aisle access and privacy which is priceless when you are sleeping, it’s like having a private suite. Despite the industry wide advances in Business Class, some airlines still carry those ‘side by side’ business class seats with no privacy and poor aisle access which is ok when you are travelling with a loved one but when you’re sleeping next to a stranger making all sorts of snorting noises it’s just not pleasant. Having said that – for those that do want to sit together at meal times (or anytime in the flight) it’s absolutely no problem. At the end of every seat is an ottoman with a seatbelt so passengers can dine and wine together without interruption. The leather seat itself is 22 inches wide, has many reclining options and comes with a blanket, thick duvet and full sized pillow. There is an above average amount of storage space both next to the seat (under the TV), in the pop up arm rest and under the ottoman. When you are ready to lie down, the cabin crew will convert your seat within a minute to a fully flat 6 foot 6 inch bed. It is at this point that Air New Zealand shows one of its competitive edges in Business Class – a mattress. Yes – an almost inch thick mattress is laid over the converted seat to create arguably the most comfortable Business Class bed in the sky. It sounds so simple but the difference between two business class beds – one with a mattress and one without is quite amazing. The bed is wide and every side sleepers dream. The seat features a charging station so you can power laptops, mobile phones and other electronic devices. There is an amenity kit at every seat containing an eye mask, ear plugs, hand moisturiser, lip balm, brightly coloured bed socks and an eye mask with an “are we there yet” or “beware I sleep walk” catchphrase on it .
The cabin itself features mood lighting to create a suitable mood for the time of day or night. Immediately after the meal service is complete the lights in the cabin are dimmed. For night flights that are flying into daylight all passengers are asked to draw their window shades until the morning.

Food and beverages
Every seat has a food and drink menu as well as an extensive separate wine list. Not long after take-off drink orders are taken and tables are set. Once these were served passengers then had the difficult task of choosing a main and dessert from the  delicious options available for each course. The Air New Zealand staff are highly trained when it comes to food and beverage preparation, service and knowledge. Wines were recommended based on the meal and if you had any questions about the meal they knew the answers and if they didn’t they found out.

Tables are lain with a crisp white linen table cloth and all meals are served on china with silverware (there’s not a piece of plastic in sight up here). The entree to Los Angeles was Prosciutto with preserved figs, bocconcini and green olive salsa and from the bakery I chose fresh bread with olive oil. For the main I ordered the Beef short rib with swede and parsnip mash and roasted shallots in balsamic and beetroot horseradish salsa . Dessert was a creamy cheesecake (or ice cream assortment) with a cheese platter to follow. Breakfast orders were taken as you woke up about 2 hours before landing. Fresh juices, tea and coffee are offered regularly and there are plenty of options in the bakery basket for those that want a light meal or an accompaniment to their main. Breakfast is served in two parts, firstly a fruit salad with compote and yoghurt as well as your selections from the bakery basket and cereal. After this is cleared the main breakfast meal is served 

I asked a few fellow passengers what they thought of their meals just to make sure there was consistency across the board and I received nothing but positive feedback. On late night flights Air New Zealand also offer a quick dine option so you can have something light to eat and go to sleep. I opted for this on the flight home from Los Angeles and it consisted of a soup with a fresh roll and small dessert. Most importantly it was as the name suggested, quick.
For passengers that get hungry throughout the flight there is a help yourself snack bar or if you’re just too comfy to move from your bed simply ask the crew and they will give you all the options at your seat.

In flight entertainment
Every seat in Business Class is equipped with a 12.1 inch touchscreen TV. Air New Zealand provides an endless menu of TV shows, movies, documentaries and music which can be enjoyed gate to gate. All viewing is enhanced with a set of comfortable noise cancelling headphones. The TV is stowed in the side of the seat at takeoff and landing but can still be watched quite easily. After takeoff it simply pops out and can be watched whilst sitting, eating and lying down.

Final word
As I sat in my seat, eating my meal and observing the crew closely I felt proud seeing ‘Airline Of The Year’ award winner in action. So often companies win awards and things go downhill thereafter but not here, in fact it just seems to keep getting better. I started to get worried as my plane touched down in Auckland after spending a total of 25 hours in Business class (with return flight) I still hadn’t found a fault. My fellow passengers couldn’t find a fault – every review needs a fault of some kind but still as I write this I simply cannot find one. Air New Zealand are actually “that good”.

Read: Air New Zealand Premium Economy Review

The author was a guest of Air New Zealand 

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Twitter: @shazpetersen