A critical review of various airlines as experienced first-hand by editorial members of The Business Travel Magazine team.
THE FLIGHT: NZ1 from London Heathrow to Los Angeles, travelling in the 44-seat Premium Economy cabin. The flight was operated by a B777-300ER. Air New Zealand moves from Terminal 1 to the new home of Star Alliance at Terminal 2 on October 22nd. I arrived at Terminal 1 on the late side and was relieved to find very few people at check-in. Nevertheless it seemed to take longer to get checked-in at the premium desks than it might have done had I joined the economy queue. The desks were right by departures and as a Premium Economy passenger I was given fast-track security privileges – but no lounge access. THE SEAT: The airline's Premium Economy ‘Spaceseats’ are lined up in a 2-2-2 configuration and each is angled towards either the aisle or the window – mine was of the latter. The fixed shell design means fellow passengers cannot recline or encroach on your space, and the 42-inch pitch together with a purple bean bag and decent seat recline meant I could stretch out in comfort. The inflight entertainment system was available from gate to gate on the 10.6-inch touchscreen, decent amenity kits were provided and there were USB and power points. A safety video presented by Bear Grylls was shown before take-off and is the latest in a series of quirky takes on the briefing. THE SERVICE: Hot towels and menus were distributed before take-off. The meal service comprised a five-spice chicken starter, my choice of braised beef (with pancetta and porcini mash, wilted red chard, roasted carrots and shallot butter) and a crème brûlée cheesecake for dessert, accompanied, of course, by a selection of New Zealand wines. Later in the flight I made the most of a facility to order snacks and drinks via the touchscreen entertainment system. THE VERDICT: Air New Zealand’s highly lauded Premium Economy product deserves every plaudit directed its way. The spacious seat and enhanced service are almost without peers in the world of premium economy and it's an excellent compromise for budgets that don't stretch to business class. THE DETAILS: Air New Zealand flies daily from London Heathrow to Los Angeles and on to Auckland. Return fares from London to Los Angeles travelling in Premium Economy start from £1,092. See: www.airnewzealand.co.uk.
Reviewed by Andy Hoskins (2014)