My flight originates at Melbourne Airport, and Air New Zealand have a separate and speedy desk for passengers checking into the business and premium economy cabin. Bags go straight through to Chicago, but all passengers must pass through another security screening in Auckland. As I’m travelling in business class, I get to relax in Air New Zealand’s busy but spacious lounge where I take advantage of the glorious and wait-free shower rooms before settling into the long flight.
Air New Zealand’s purple-lit Business Premier cabin may not be the newest in aviation – in fact, this particular business class cabin is breaching 20 years of age. While its unusual herringbone design in a 1-1-1 configuration gives all passengers aisle access, two aisles are facing passengers opposite, and as your head sits above the walls of your “cocoon,” it lacks the privacy of more modern seats in business class. The seats are slightly narrow, too, with a 22-inch width and 46-inch pitch. At the pointy end of the seat, an “ottoman” allows you to put your feet up and I observe a passenger opposite eagerly ripping off his socks and shoes and placing his bare feet on it before we take off. This passenger quirk becomes more annoying when I discover ANZ supply a cool pair of reusable, purple-striped socks to each passenger in business. Also included in a sustainability-focussed goodie bag fashioned like a durable paper lunch bag is a bamboo toothbrush, a pen made from paper, toothpaste, earplugs and a locally produced, organic, plant-based lotion and lip balm. After a cool glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne, I sink far enough into soft leather window seat 7K to block out other passengers, and after dinner service, crew convert it into a cosy 80-inch lie-flat bed with a memory foam mattress, two large pillows and a duvet, and I sleep soundly.
Up to three 23 kilograms checked luggage and two carry-on bags weighing 14 kilograms total.
Tucked away in your cocoon’s wall for take off and landing, an 11-inch screen pulls out in front of you which means size isn’t an issue and neither is reach, forgoing the need for the remote. The screen is super responsive and with one tap you can see flight information without having to stop your program and divert to the flight map. With noise-cancelling headphones provided there’s plenty to watch, including HBO and the last season of Chicago-based series Shameless and some underrated movies (eg Triangle of Sadness). When I fly, live sport is a new feature and there’s basic Wi-Fi which can be used for checking messages and emails.
This is where ANZ really shine, with crew demonstrating genuine warmth and friendliness combined with professionalism. David the inflight service manager introduces himself to me, as does Chris, who serves me throughout the flight; both crew members know how long I’m going to be in Chicago and which flight I am returning; and basically bend over backwards to make sure I get everything I need.
The customisable three-course menu is served with premium NZ wines and includes hearty dishes such as a grass-fed NZ lamb rump or a superfood salad that can have salmon or chicken added to it. A fun Chicago-style hot dog is served mid-flight. Order as much or little as you like from the diverse brunch menu, served two hours before landing.
One more thing
Air New Zealand continue to provide exciting, innovative design for their cabins (think economy cabin’s Skycouch and Skynest) and the three cabins on board this plane will be updated in 2024… Watch this space. But for now, this is the easiest and most direct way to get to Chicago from Australia, as transiting through Auckland is far more pleasant than the US airport alternatives.
On this route from $NZ6,191, business class one-way*.
While it’s not the most modern business class in operation today, it’s still pretty cosy and the airline makes up for the shortfall with five-star service and dining.