May 14, 2010

What to expect in Air New Zealand’s premium economy

If you want to know the difference between Premium Economy and Business Class on Air New Zealand, this post is for you!

I seem to however between Gold and Silver Status with Air New Zealand (currently I’m a high silver!) and recently found myself upgraded to Premium Economy on the 777-200 NZ6 to Los Angeles.

If you look carefully you can make out Andrew Adamson’s feet

In the Koru Lounge at Auckland International Airport I hob nobbed (in a non-stalkerish manner) near Andrew Adamson (director of Narnia) and his wife and 2 daughters. They turned left upon boarding, to the pointy end, the lie-flat business class seat/bed end, and I went right. Although not too far right. I was in the front row of Premium Economy with a primo view of the Adamson family’s feet.

On this aircraft Premium Economy seats are 4-5 cm wider than economy, have 5-6 cm of extra recline and come with foot rests. We, being the semi-posh passengers, were also served champagne in plastic cups (the Adamsons and a film crew from the Discovery Channel in Canada who had ‘wrapped’ in NZ sipped out of stemmed glasses).

The food and attention in Premium Economy is almost identical to Business Class. The seats are no where near the same! But that’s what an extra couple of thousand dollars gets you – a seat that lies fully flat and you snuggle down under your personal duvet.

And apart from the baby who whined/cried/screamed for at least the first two hours (even making his exhausted mother cry and his father frantically pour more milk and administer potions) it was a pleasant 12 hour flight to LAX. At least we had the Business Class earphones which handily served as noise cancellation and I found a jazz/world music channel and went to my happy place.

Good advertisement for wearing pressure socks (not Adamson feet!)

To make things happier, Premium Economy passengers get the Business Class meals, albeit on slightly less fancier trays but waaay better than cattle down the back.

On this flight we started with two king prawns served on potato, horseradish and chive salad – delicious.

Then the main courses were a choice of beef (for my new friend Ken by the window), salmon (for me) and chicken pasta (for Ken’s wife Jennifer from the Gold Coast). The macadamia nut crusted salmon with ginger and lemon beurre blanc, crushed peas, carrot, courgette and baby pototoes (I know all this because I nicked the menu and am copying it out) was really delicious. Ken and Jennifer loved theirs too. They’re off on a cruise to Alaska and were preparing themselves for American eating.

Dessert was served at the time of the starter and sat patiently waiting, but I only tasted the corner of the chocolate opera cake – kind of a layered cake, gateau thing. I had to pass on the NZ cheese and fresh fruit, but certainly did not pass on the Sauvignon blanc (or two) and nodded vigorously to the sticky wine.

And by the time I peeled off my eyemask and headphones, I was being served this French toast with berries and real cream. 8/10.

My travel tips for surviving longhaul flights:

• Bring your slippers so you can whip your shoes off and not have to wear socks on the skanky toilet floor.

• Take a comfortable neck pillow – ideally the Cabeau which is the best I’ve used.

• Take a good book (I was reading Mao’s Last Dancer. Jennifer is reading Ten Years about a lady wrongly imprisoned in Australia by corrupt police. She’s finding it a bit harrowing!)

• Say yes to the wine (and the sticky or port).

• Always pack a bag of sugary lollies. My faves are The Natural Confectionery Co soft jellies.

• And lastly, get your doctor to prescribe a sleeping tablet. I take Temazepam. I have taken Immovane in the past but the metallic aftertaste will last all day. I swear by sleeping tablets for flights over 10 hours.

Read my review on flying Air New Zealand Business Class here >>>

About Megan Singleton

Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!

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