Air New Zealand Premium Economy
The Low Down
While flying Business Class is beyond the reach of some, flying premium economy still offers a more than comfortable alternative inflight experience without breaking the piggy bank. Air New Zealand premium economy class in particular is well regarded worldwide and when flying from Australia to the USA in particular is an attractive option to consider.
When entering an Air New Zealand premium economy cabin, the first thing you will notice (as compared to economy) is the space! – it’s not just the increased personal space but even the seats offer greater seat pitch and width. Additionally, the inflight meal menu is significantly superior with more eating options (with business class dishes offered) and greater drink choices to select from.
The other noteworthy difference is with baggage allowances; where premium economy passengers are entitled to two pieces of carry-on luggage (up to 7kg each) whereas economy flying passengers are allowed just the one piece. (Also included is two pieces of checked luggage (up to 23kg each), which is the same for economy passengers when flying to mainland USA).
Other additional benefits over economy class include –
More onboard storage space.
Purple mood lighting.
A larger tray table.
Ability to earn more Airpoint Dollars and Status Points.
Dedicated Premium check-in counter.
A more generous amenity kit (though this is only available when flying long haul – including flights to/from Perth and to Honolulu).
Unfortunately, a downside of forking out the hard earned, is lounge access is not included in the fare. However, if you are an Airpoints Elite, Gold, Elite, Elite Partner, Koru Member or Star Alliance Gold member, than you are in luck!
Another downside is the Air New Zealand premium economy cabin doesn’t have a dedicated toilet; so yes you will have to join the usual economy passenger rush for the toilet once the plane takes off and the seat belt sign is turned off.
Depending on the route, with long haul routes like Auckland to Los Angeles you can expect all the trimmings – linen table napkin, fancy silverware and welcome drink (usually orange juice or sparkling wine (champagne)). Additionally, you will also usually get (depending on the route) an entrée before your main course followed by dessert. The meals are designed by renowned New Zealand chefs – Peter Gordon and Michael Meredih. As mentioned earlier, a bonus is premium economy passengers get to dine on a number of dishes that are offered to business class passengers and can wash this down via a fine selection of New Zealand wines on offer.
Additionally, whenever you feel hungry a snack bar is available featuring New Zealand origin potato chips, cookies and drinks. These are selected from the comfort of your seat via the inflight entertainment screen and the crew will deliver this to you.
In Flight Entertainment (IFE)
As with other major airlines, Air New Zealand’s IFE is on par, standard touch-screen Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) IFE presenting a number of movie/tv show/documentary etc options. Air New Zealand claims there is 1700 hours of content available (so more than enough for those long hours to fly by) and interestingly enough you will always find the three films from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit (all of which as you may know already was filmed in New Zealand). There is also a neat feature where you can share your screen with your neighbouring seat partner – just like being in your mini cinema!
The screen is a very large 10.6 touch screen and through it you can you can also have emailed to you (directly from your seat) a list of movies/tv programs you did not get around to watching on your flight! Under each screen, you will find a USB port where you can recharge your electronic devices as well.
Note inflight WIFI is being introduced with all Air New Zealand flights to have it by end of 2020. WIFI charges are reasonable with the first hour being free and then $40NZD for the remaining of the flight.
Air New Zealand premium economy seating layout is 2-2-2 and offers a seat pitch of 10 inches greater than the standard Air New Zealand economy seat (41 inch vs 31 inch) – offering 50% more recline than economy (9 inch recline is claimed). Additionally the seat are wider at 20 inches (approximately 3 inches wider than the economy one), with wider armrests, a retractable footrest and all dressed in cozy black leather.
When flying long haul, you can find waiting for you a cotton blanket, a fluffy pillow, amenity kit (which includes a environmentally friendly bamboo toothbrush) and a bottle of water awaiting you.
Seats in the bulkhead offer extra legroom, but unfortunately Air New Zealand charges additional for them.
What Planes have this/Which seat to choose
Premium Economy is offered only on the wide body fleet – B777-200ER/B777-300/B787-9. Generally, most of the seats are roomy and offer excellent comfort with a few exceptions –
All long haul routes offer premium economy so think Auckland-Los Angeles/London-Los Angeles/Auckland-Singapore (and vice-versa). There are also a few short-haul routes where you can find premium economy offered (like for example flights between Auckland and Nadi).
From Australia (and these are subject to last minute aircraft changes) you can expect the following –
Air New Zealand has its own frequent flyer program called Air Points where flights are used to earn and redeem points. Additionally the airline is also a member of the Star Alliance Group and points from flight can earn and redeem flights with other Star Alliance airlines.
In general, if you see an Air New Zealand premium economy fare a little over twice the price of economy – BUY IT!
Here at flightfinderau we have seen Air New Zealand Premium Economy fares to US destinations such as Los Angeles/San Francisco/Chicago/Houston regularly go for approximately the $1700-2000 mark. Fortunately for us in Australia, sale fares to the US are frequent given the intense competition between Australia and the US. Similarly, competition between Australia and New Zealand is fierce and you can see fares between $800-1000.
A cost-effective way to fly Premium Economy is by purchasing a economy seat and upgrading through cash or AirPoints. How this works is by invitation to make a bid before, you fly (through money or Airpoints Dollars). Usually a minimum price is set and sometimes a low bid (just over 10% of the minimum) is enough to secure you a more comfortable trip. Note Air New Zealand only offers one class upgrades (for example economy to premium economy).
Now for the bad news, being successful through an upgrade in this manner is not easy. There is a greater chance of success on short-haul routes (such as flying between Australia and New Zealand) and less chance on long haul routes (for example New Zealand to the USA).
Things to watch out for
Some tickets might be marketed as premium economy, but in reality involve an economy flight. This is especially true when flying to the USA from Australia where the main leg from Auckland to Los Angeles. For example this might be premium economy but the return leg home back to Australia flight might actually be in economy. You can minimise this risk by checking the aircraft scheduled to operate this smaller leg.
• The Air New Zealand symbol is a Maori Koru (symbolises new life, growth, strength and peace) – an alternative representation of the silver fern.
• Air New Zealand’s unique safety videos are legendary and offer an introduction to NZ humour at its best. Here is an example.
• Everywhere you look on board an Air New Zealand plane, the Maori culture is prevalent.
• Parents can keep track of their children who are travelling solo through an innovative Airband (plastic wristband) that sends messages throughout the flight.
• You don’t have to fly business class for a lie flat seat. The Skycouch (three economy seats booked together in a row) is very handy for families travelling with kids and couples alike.
Don’t forget to check out our other blogs for more useful information.