Flying with Air New Zealand

BATD ON Aug 19, 2012 AT 7:31 pm

Global Lust By Chrissy Iley

I travel from London to Los Angeles at least once a month. It sounds glamorous, but it’s gruelling. After many years of doing the trip exclusively on Virgin Atlantic, as that’s where my air miles were, it became even more gruelling as I watched the airline’s standards sink, rudeness rise and the food become inedible in all classes.

Even though it had become a miserable experience I didn’t want to try another airline because the way airlines hook you in is air miles. It was going to take something extraordinary to move me even though I complained flightly.

I complained when the food became slop. I complained when staff became surly. I complained when the free massage you used to get on the flights ended the days of Virgin glamour. Now they don’t even give you a lip balm if you travel Upper Class. Yet still I used them because I had over 1.2 million air miles with them and a credit card that clocks up miles by the day.

If you can travel for free in Upper Class why would you pay to go any other way…?

Then by an accident I discovered Air New Zealand. Warner Bros paid for the flight. I travelled in their Business Premier, which is actually cheaper than Virgin’s Upper Class, and it is an episode of Pan Am, Come Fly With Me, and Master Chef all in one.

Not your usual airline food

It is a return to politeness, to glamour. The staff are friendly without being patronising, attentive without being curious or insistent. They are relaxed, they are fun, they are kind. You feel them trying their best. One small example: No Nazi takes away your headphones. You can land as you are finishing watching your movie. The entertainment system is on all the time if you want it, with an amazing selection of television and movies. You can even watch Breakfast At Tiffany’s or The Sound Of Music if you like the classics, if not – everything up to date is there as well.
They are one of the few airlines that allow emotional companions. Your pet can travel with you if you need his or her help because you are a nervous flyer and you don’t have to become more nervous imagining him or her dehydrating in the hold.
I am a nervous flier and trust is very important and provided on Air New Zealand in abundance. They look after you. Imagine that. It’s shocking but true.

In Business Premier the seats are light and creamy. They pull out to a full bed and you get a mattress, which is puffy, and soft, so no backache. In Economy you can get a Sky Couch, three seats that pull out into a couch, so if you are a couple with a baby or small child, perfect. In Premium Economy the white leather seats are roomy and you can face away from the person next to you if you want to so no enforced chatter with strangers.
In business they give you La Prairie lip balm , moisturiser and eye cream and a pen that I love as well as socks and eye mask.
There are windows in the bathroom, so you can watch the clouds as you ablute. I don’t know why this appeals to me, but I find it relaxing and less claustrophobic.

The wines are all from New Zealand and therefore excellent. The food features celebrity chefs such as Peter Gordon. And even in Economy you can order a seafood meal and get smoked salmon.

The Business Premier food is exquisite. If it were a restaurant you’d be going back there. They have done some amazing coconut vegetable curries – I like spice in the air. On the way out I had a lovely honey marinated chicken with sweet potato mash – extraordinary and flavourful and comforting
They are fond of giving you a smoothie and there’s something very cosy about a peach smoothie for breakfast. Then you can have waffles and strawberries or scrambled eggs. In Business Premier it’s not all pre-packaged. They actually cook it for you.

The stylish hostess uniform

Their uniforms are stylish. The men look smart and the women look pretty. There’s a lovely wrap dress and peplum jacket that I would actually wear.
Their desserts always include a gourmet ice cream. I like ice cream in the sky. And they never complain you’ve had enough New Zealand wine. When you are actually flying you feel the best you could possibly feel in the air. You are looked after and in luxury.
I am not alone in extolling its virtues. On this flight Macy Gray and her entourage chose Air New Zealand. On others I’ve seen an entire family of Jacksons. Minus Michael of course but it is the family airline of choice. The Beckhams also love it. As does Cheryl Cole. On my return flight was the long tongued Kiss rocker Gene Simmons.
There he was all black and white snakeskin books and died black rocker hair and perma snarl, until a toddler handed him her lamb to play with and they played sweetly for ages. Air New Zealand feels so good t makes you a better person !

Air New Zealand feels like an embrace. It had felt protective.

I’d also like to point out I am an Air New Zealand Gold Elite customer and did not receive a free flight or upgrade to write this glowing article. I glowed regardless.

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