Today we travel from San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL), on board Air New Zealand‘s economy 777 service. Flying out on a Friday night, I was surprised to see the plane not just full, but overbooked – which seems to lend to the argument that this route is increasing in its popularity as an alternative to Los Angeles. So how does the service stack up?
Route: NZ7, San Francisco (SFO) to Auckland (AKL)
Seat: 40D, Middle Aisle (3-4-3)
Airplane: Boeing 777-300
Duration: 12 hour 15 minute flight.
On time? Yes, with slight delay on arrival due to late departure from our arrival gate
By fitting in 10 seats per row, the 777-300 does feel a bit more crammed in than the equivalent 3-3-3 service on Virgin’s widebody jets, but it’s a minor difference. This was a very full flight, so there was no chance to spread out. As is my want, I sat in the aisle, in the middle (find out why I sit here, HERE), and had a comfortable flight. Thankfully my neighbours were friendly and respectful of the allocated space, which made things a lot easier.
A blanket and pillow are on the seat when you board the plane, and the seats are super comfortable, with decent recline, movable headrest and enough leg room for someone 5’10. Especially when you keep your bags overhead (and they have tonnes of space). I’m sure if you’re over 6ft you may be less enthused, but there are seats available with extra legroom for a nominal fee.
If you’re seated on the sides, Air New Zealand offer the industry leading “Sky Couch” option, which is designed to allow a couple to buy the seat between them, and then the seats expanded to make a bed. Sometimes, if the flight isn’t busy, you can get one all to yourself for no extra cost, but that’s luck of the draw. And no one got lucky on this flight.
Decent headphones are provided to all seats, should you need them for the entertainment unit. – though you are able to use your own headphones, too.
It’s one of the best entertainment systems in the market, with a massive selection of films and tv shows, including bingeable seasons that allow you to start the next episode after the other one ends. It’s basically Netflix in the skies.
Food and Drink Service
Air New Zealand have always offered an excellent service to their economy passengers, and this hasn’t changed. They wander through with water and cups shortly after takeoff, and do so regularly throughout the flight. In between services, too, you can order any drinks you want – even alcoholic – by touch screen. They have snacks like pretzels and cookies available at a touch, too.
Being a night flight, dinner was served not long after takeoff. The options were Mexican beef (with tumeric rice and vegetables) or Italian chicken, served with a warm bread roll, pesto pasta and cheese and crackers. There was no vegetarian option, so make sure to request that when you make your booking. I had the beef and it was pretty delicious.
Breakfast was served two hours before landing, and they put the lights back on at the same time. I had a decent cheese omelette, with potatoes and tomatoes, fruit and yogurt – while a fresh fruit platter was the other option.
To tie a bow on the whole experience, and something they’ve always done as long as IV flown with them – they served a lolly before landing. It’s these little things that make them a world class airline.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Air New Zealand staff are some of the best in the industry. This flight was no exception – and they proved particularly patient in what was quite a packed flight.
About Departure Airport: San Francisco International (In Transit)
Transfer at SFO from a domestic US flight is easy. I didn’t have to go through security again, there were lots of food options, but also no lounge for Gold Velocity Card holders (you would, by comparison, get access at LAX). Air NZ frequent flyers will have access to the Singapore Airline Lounge.
Options for food in the international terminal were fairly pitiful. Napa Farms Markets is probably your best option, for a decent $15 plate of meat and sides. This did, however, arrive cold, the sides at least, and there was nowhere to sit… that in mind, you’re better off wandering to domestic terminal 3, where Yankee Pier proves a good option for classic seafood dishes including lobster rolls and clam chowder and the famous Boudin who serve the chowder in the bread bowl. Better still: walking between the terminals is easy!
About Arrival Airport: Auckland International (In Transit)
If you’re connecting through to Australia in Auckland, you’ll enjoy an eeasy connection, which took just five minutes. I headed straight to the new Air NZ lounge and enjoyed a hot breakfast, and there are plenty of dining and shopping options throughout the terminal.
To book this route or others on the Air New Zealand network, head to http://www.airnewzealand.com.au/