Air New Zealand Economy Class, Wellington to Auckland
Air New Zealand International Koru Club Lounge, Auckland
Thai Airways Business Class, Auckland to Bangkok
Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge (Domestic), Bangkok
Thai Airways Business Class, Bangkok to Phuket
Mövenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, Phuket
So Tuesday finally arrived, the first day of our big trip. My alarm went off at 5:30am but I didn’t get much sleep the night before as I was doing various last minute packing, and tidying up of the flat.
We had booked an airport transfer in advance the day before through Air New Zealand Taxis, who provide a variety of options for getting to/from airports in New Zealand, including by helicopter transfer in Auckland!
Our 2-person transfer cost $21.42 from the central city in Wellington, for a shared shuttle (the provider being supershuttle); interestingly, booking through this method is not subject to any credit card fees (bucking the trend surprisingly, as some of the credit card fees for booking flights via. AirNZ can be quite high) and also earn Airpoints Dollars (APD), although the amount earned is pretty small, for the journeys I’ve booked I’m pretty sure I’ve earned 1 APD.. but i guess every little bit counts, right? 😉
I arranged for the shuttle pickup to be 6:15am to allow for some time to get to the airport and check in, which I knew would take some time due to our international connections taking us all the way through to Phuket. At 6:15am the shuttle had not arrived (odd as most times they have been early) so we decided to wait a little while – By 6:25am I decided to call AirNZ Taxis and after about 5mins of being on hold, managed to get a hold of someone who checked with the driver and confirmed they would be there in about 2min. After pickup, it was a short ride to the airport and time to check in; plenty of buffer time meant we didn’t need to rush.
Check in was quick and uneventful, and took about 15mins; due to our international routing through multiple ports we were unable to use the check-in kiosks.
My main luggage bag was slightly over the standard limit of 23kg through Asia, however there were no problems with allowance due to our ticket and my status. We were issued with our boarding passes from Wellington all the way through to Phuket: a total of 3 flights, as well as the standard NZ customs form to be filled out for departure when leaving Auckland.
We popped into the Koru lounge for a bit of breakfast and a coffee before the flight, which was quite busy due to all the early morning commuters flying at the same time.
Air New Zealand 412
Wellington (WLG) to Auckland (AKL)
Tuesday 9 July
Weather on departure: Fine / Sunny
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 1B (Economy Class w/ Space+)
Although our ticket through US Airways is a Business Class ticket, Air New Zealand only has economy class seating (coach) on all domestic flights, so these legs are booked in X class. There is, however have ‘Space+’ seating at the front of the aircraft for silver members (at specific times), Koru and Gold/Gold Elite frequent flyers, which provides greater legroom (for the A320’s, this means 35″ seat pitch vs. 30-31″ seat pitch for a standard economy seat).
At about 8:20am, a boarding call went out, and we made our way to the security check in and gate control. Boarding was through the front of the aircraft, and as we scanned our boarding passes the machine beeped, as we were seated in seats 1A+B – An emergency exit row. I had already pre-selected our seats in advance for our flights as per usual – The ground staff confirmed that we were happy with this, and we took our seats after a short wait in line on the air bridge. The flight was on one of the refitted AirNZ Airbus A320 domestic aircraft, which will be the standard for all domestic jet aircraft (with the Boeing 737’s to be eventually phased out).
I also noticed that the plane we were on was painted with black livery (on the tail) as opposed to the old teal colours, something of an interim update to the look before the new universal livery with the silver fern comes into play later next year.
The refit makes the aircraft similar to other new A320’s AirNZ have in their service, with the interior fresh and modern, leather seats installed throughout and light purple ‘mood lighting’ along the aisle above the overhead storage lockers.
There was plenty of legroom in row 1, as it is the first row – However there is a need to be weary of the cabin crew/flight attendants moving around, the front door to the cabin (when opening/closing) and the low clearance from the overhead storage lockers which are easy to hit your head on (I narrowly missed this a couple of times).
Boarding took a little bit of time due to quite a heavy load of passengers, so the flight left about 10mins late. The captain came on the PA to advise us of flight time and flight conditions, and that despite the delay that they were intending for us to arrive at our scheduled departure time of 9:35am.
As the plane was taxiing to the runway the safety briefing video came on, which is currently the ‘Bear Essentials of Safety’ featuring Bear Grylls. Although there is a fairly large screen at the front of the plane, it appears to be used for managing lighting and other controls by the cabin crew, so there is no monitor available for passengers in these seats to view the safety video. As a result, one of the flight attendants had to do a manual briefing with a demo life jacket, belt and safety card. Although I usually watch these safety videos most of the time, this time I particularly felt obliged to watch seeing as the flight attendant was going through so much effort to ensure that we were being well informed.
Within minutes we were up in the air and started our climb out out Wellington. Once the captain had turned off the seatbelt sign the flight attendants started getting things ready and advised us of the inflight snack and drink options, which were the standard ‘bite size’ Cookie Time cookie or BBQ vege chips, as well as tea, coffee and water.
Just after halfway through the flight, the captain came on the PA and advised that we would be ahead of schedule and arriving about 8:25am – 10mins earlier than scheduled.
About 20mins out we began our decent into Auckland, and during the decent one of the flight attendants went through the cabin and offered boiled sweets to the passengers. I think that this is a nice touch on these short flights, and is excellent especially for those with kids. There are many airlines that don’t offer anything in this regard, especially in Economy.
We touched down in Auckland about 10mins early and taxied to the gate. Interestingly while the air bridge was being connected the captain came in over the PA and advised that the rear doors to the aircraft would also be used in addition to the front, and to take care when using the stairs. I guess they were keen to get everyone disembarked for the next flight, but I think this is a great idea – People start to get annoyed if they have to wait on the plane for too long.
As usual, another quick and uneventful flight, and good start our journey through to Phuket!