Air New Zealand review: 777-300ER economy class London to Los Angeles

Air New Zealand review: 777-300ER economy class London to Los Angeles

Greetings from London’s Heathrow airport! I arrived bright and early to catch Air New Zealand flight number 1 to Los Angeles, but considering how big this airport is, it took a a good long while to figure out how to get over to terminal 2 from terminal 4 (where my hotel was located). That didn’t phase me any – I was more than just a little excited to write my first ever Air New Zealand review.

Trains…tunnels….moving walkways…it was an adventure in and of itself, and I pretty much got to experience it all this particular morning.

London, England (LHR) – Los Angeles,CA (LAX)
Friday, August 16, 2019
Aircraft: 777-319ER
Registration: ZK-OKN
Duration: 10 hours 28 minutes
Seat: 40H (economy class)

Air New Zealand 777-300ER side view
Air New Zealand 777-300ER side view illustration by
LHR-LAX flight track
Our route from LHR to LAX this afternoon.

The video

When I created the video review for this flight several months ago, I really had no intention of creating a blog post as well. I figured the video would be good enough to document the experience, and I’d leave it at that.

But then, just 8 days ago, Air New Zealand announced that they will be ending service to London in 2020. This LHR-LAX service (fNZ001) is going away, and I felt like it was worth documenting here on the blog as well. Just for the memories.

Air New Zealand Nz001 departs out of terminal 2 at LHR

It took about 25 minutes to traverse my way over from terminal 4, but I didn’t mind. As usual, I arrived far too early and I had  plenty of time built into my schedule for unexpected delays. Delays such as 25 minutes of trains, tunnels, and moving walkways for example.

LHR tunnel
Of all the underground walkways in airports all over the world, I do declare the tunnels at LHR to be the most interesting. I appreciate the arrows pointing me in the right direction.
SANspotter selfie LHR
I look awfully concerned for someone who is gathering content for an Air New Zealand review. This is supposed to be fun!

Terminal 2 (the Queen’s Terminal) here at Heathrow is extremely impressive. It’s big, bright, and extremely efficient. The perfect place for kicking off my first ever Air New Zealand review as a matter of fact. Especially for NZ001.

Terminal 2 LHR entrance
Terminal 2. I wonder what made the Queen choose this one over all the others?
LHR terminal 2
I think that if I were the King, it’d be really hard not to claim this terminal as my own. Although, fighting the Queen for it doesn’t sound fun.
Kiosk check in
I tired to check into this flight using a kiosk, but whenever I pressed the Air New Zealand logo (on any of the 9 kiosks), everything froze up. Hard enough to assume I was on candid camera or something and there were people laughing at me somewhere in this building.

Since all the kiosks kept crashing whenever I pressed the Air New Zealand logo to initiate the check in process – I ended up in the Star Alliance customer service queue:

LHR customer service queue
My apologies to the heathrow IT department for crashing an entire row of kiosks.

Past security and into the departures area

I guess I had to kind of expect that there would be more moving walkways, right? Like all terminals here at LHR, terminal 2 is massive and it’s a long walk to the gates.

Sanspotter selfie LHR Terminal 2
Well, by “long walk” I actually meant “long ride”. But you know what I mean.
1940s air canada flight attendants
At least the scenery was nice, and I got a nice AvGeek-style history lesson as I was being whisked to my gate.

One of the nice things about the all the minor delays this morning meant that I didn’t have to wait all that long once I arrived at the gate.

This pic sort of makes this Air New Zealand review official now, right? NZ001 is a flight I’ve been looking forward to!
Air New Zealand 777-300 Zk-okn
I was kind of hoping for the All Blacks plane today, but ZK-OKN is a fine choice as well.

I only had an hour to kill at this point, which may seem like a lot to most normal people. However, you should know by now that I ain’t normal, and what I was planning for was at least 3 hours of uninterrupted blog writing mixed in with a little plane spotting.

Sanspotter selfie Heathrow Airport
There I go watching planes again when I should have been working on the blog.

Air New Zealand London to Los Angeles (NZ001) has been on my bucket list for as long as I can remember. That’s why it was a bit of a challenge to lurk in the shadows pretending to be cool (and normal) just before they initiated the boarding process.

I *think* I pulled it off successfully though. I didn’t see anyone pointing and staring in my general direction as I waited to board. Which is absolutely perfect, because the last thing I wanted to include in my first ever Air New Zealand review was the admission that people were pointing and staring at me.

Air New Zealand gate LHR
Perhaps if I stay back far enough, I won’t look like the mega airplane dork that I actually am?

The Air New Zealand boarding process

Boarding for NZ001 began right on time, and in typical New Zealand fashion – it was one of the most organized and calm boarding experiences of my life. Which, now that I think of it, is probably the most notable thing from this entire Air New Zealand review.

This airline doesn’t mess around when it comes to boarding an airplane, and they were not afraid to refuse anyone who attempted to board before their row was called.

Air New Zealand cabin crew
New Zealand hospitality at its finest. Weird that I get to experience it in London on my way to Los Angeles, but…whatever.

Ladies and gentleman, welcome to NZ001 to LAX. I already see purple mood lighting, which looks fantastic. But, beyond that, I’m really excited to discover what this airline is all about. Detail by detail.

Next is the business class bar (which I won’t get to partake in today), followed (obviously) by business class.

Air New Zealand business class bar
The business class bar. Unfortunately, I’m not hoity toity enough to be able to experience this while in flight today.
Air New Zealand business class
An extremely anti-AvGeek business class configuration. Who thought it was a good idea to turn the seats *away* from the windows?

Inward-facing seats are the worst. I experienced that configuration on a Virgin Atlantic A340-600 once, and I can’t say that I enjoyed it. But, that isn’t the point of this particular Air New Zealand review so it’s probably best that I drop it and move on…

Anyway, passing through the premium economy section was next (which looks great), and then of course…regular economy. That’s how I roll.

Air New Zealand premium economy
Premium economy looks really great actually. Is it weird that I’m more tempted to try this than the business class I just walked through?
Air New Zealand economy class
Finally, economy class. My peoples!

It’s taken me well over 1 million miles of flying to get here, but…I present to you the world’s best economy class seats:

Air New Zealand Sky couch seats
Unbeknownst to me, I booked a seat in a Sky Couch row. I wonder how much cash it’ll take to get my seat mates to sit somewhere else so I can experience this in all its glory?
Air New Zealand Sky couch pic
Seriously, the Sky Couch concept is one of the most brilliant products I’ve ever seen in economy class. If you’ve got a row all to yourself, just flip up these leg rests, lie down, and sleep like a baby all the way to your destination! RIP to anyone over 6’ though, because you’re gonna have to wad up like a ball to actually lie down.

For the record, I don’t pay attention to Skytrax ratings or anything like that, so when I said “world’s best”, it actually means the best looking and most comfortable regular economy class seats that *I* have ever experienced. Seriously – this isn’t even as close to what I experienced in Qatar Airways 777-300ER economy recently.

Air New Zealand 777-300 layout
“But Scott, how can you possibly say that a 3-4-3 layout on a 777 is the world’s best?!” Well, while these seats may be slightly narrow, they are the deepest and most comfortable economy seats that I have ever sat in. So there.
air New Zealand economy review
It’s been a long time since I’ve sat “in” an economy class seat instead of “on” it. My butt was very well-cradled in these bad boys.
Air New Zealand economy class seats
See what I mean? Those seats are deep!

We haven’t even left the gate yet, and I think I’ve found my favorite long haul economy product in all the world.

All the things you get in economy class on Air New Zealand

Finding yourself in economy class on this airline isn’t such a bad thing (especially on a really long segment such as NZ001 is). They give you a lot of loot on these long haul flights, starting with with a blanket thick enough to keep you warm in the Arctic:

Economy class blanket
The blanket on my bed at home isn’t even as #thicc as this.

You’ll also get well-padded headphones (perfect for watching Trips with Rory videos, of course):

Air New Zealand headphones
Well-padded headphones? In economy class? If I can somehow convince my seat mates to leave, this has the potential to be a wickedly comfortable flight.

Finally, there were fully functioning USB power ports and full size electrical outlets that actually work – unlike what I experienced in LOT Polish Airlines economy recently.

Air New Zealand electrical outlets USB ports
Since when did electrical outlets and USB ports become the things I most look forward to on airplanes? Man I’m boring.

While getting all settled in here in seat at 40H, I couldn’t help but to think that all the trains, tunnels, and moving walkways to get to this plane were totally worth it.

Full air New Zealand review
Don’t you just love it when you *know* that it’s going to be a really great flight? I’m gonna be royally ticked if we crash in the North Atlantic.

By the way, the people sitting next to me were from Germany and were on their way to Fiji via LA and Auckland. THAT is a long haul. Oh – and if you’re looking for quality entertainment, do check out the Air New Zealand All Blacks safety video:

Departure from LHR

Is there no better feeling than being on a flight that’s headed home after a busy few days on the road? I’ve been traveling a lot this year (just check my flight log), and as much as I’ve enjoyed it…it gets difficult when packing so many flights into short periods of time.

It felt so good to wrap myself up in the blanket like a burrito, chill out a bit, and enjoy that Air New Zealand hospitality all the way home to Southern California.

Air New Zealand 777-300 cabin
Looks pretty cozy in here, doesn’t it? I’m still working up the courage to tap people on the shoulder and recommend SANspotter videos as quality in flight entertainment. 
Air New Zealand drinks
The flight attendants came by with drinks shortly after takeoff, and I went wild and crazy with a straight shot of water. My airline reviews would be a lot more entertaining if I drank martinis, I know.

Even though my goal was to chill out and not do much of anything on this flight, that all fell apart once they mentioned “free WiFi” during the welcome announcement. And it was good WiFi too! So good that I actually had no excuse not to get any work done before the meal service.

Air New Zealand free WiFi
WiFi so fast that it was even possible to watch YouTube without buffering. Talk about an amazing opportunity to catch up on YouTube!

The first meal service

To some, this will be the most important part of this entire Air New Zealand review. Food on airplanes (in any class) is usually how the quality of an airline is gauged, so let’s get right into this…

Sanspotter selfie air New Zealand
Don’t mind if I do.

First of all, I just want to say that Air New Zealand “gets” it. How? Well, you know how ice cream on airplanes is usually served 10x harder than diamonds and it it’s impossible to penetrate for at least 30 minutes? Somebody was using their noggin, because it was served with the meal giving it plenty of time to thaw while I messed around with the main course.

Air New Zealand dessert
Ice cream served with the main meal, which will be perfectly thawed by the time I get to it. Yet another reason why I’ve got a major crush on this airline.

As far as the meal itself (which was some kind of curry chicken dish), do I dare say that it was the best economy class meal I’ve had so far this year?

Air New Zealand economy food
It may not look like much, but this curry chicken dish was perfectly cooked and fairly high quality. Better than the meal I had in Emirates A380 economy, that’s for dang sure.
Sanspotter selfie air New Zealand meal
Thinking about how awesome that perfectly-thawed ice cream is gonna be.

The guy next to me had the beef and potato option – which looked equally good. And since I still haven’t been able to think of a non-threatening way of asking a complete stranger for pics of his food, I can’t deliver on that today. Sorry.

And that’s it for the dinner service! But fear not. With still 7 and a half hours to go, there’s plenty more interesting things to show you in this Air New Zealand review. This is, after all, NZ001 – one of the longest flights in the network.

The lavatories. And other neat stuff.

Would you believe that there’s actually a chandelier on this plane? It was yet another reason why this was one of my best long haul economy flights ever.

Air New Zealand lavatory pic
Rather than show you a pic of a dirty toilet like I normally do, I’m pleased to present you with this classy chandelier which was printed on the inside of the lavatory door instead. Best airplane bathroom ever!

It occurred to me during the walk back to my seat that I’ve heard very few negative things about Air New Zealand over the years – and I was starting to understand why. Yeah, I had to crash an entire row of kiosks in order to successfully check in this morning, but that’s not the point. This is an incredibly good airline.

Open window shade
Completely random, but If you’ve ever wondered how much light *one* open window shade will let into the cabin – here you go. And no, it wasn’t me!

Oh. Wanna know what makes SANspotter happy? A bathroom with plenty of quality reading material.

Air New Zealand lavatory Art
Back to the bathroom (a different one this time). Ok, it’s technically a “lavatory” and the books aren’t real…but…how freaking cool is this?

If anything, it makes me think that there must be a servant up in the business class lavatory that’ll spoon feed you caviar and champagne as you do your business. I gotta try that.

777-300 rear galley
While I’m up, I might as well loiter in the rear galley.
777-300 wing
My sincerest apologies to everyone in the last three rows for opening the window shade to take this pic.

Just a few more hours to go

Fast forward a few hours, and we’re making really good time the further we push west. I am getting awfully thirsty though. How come the flight attendants never come by with water when my cup is empty?

Sanspotter air New Zealand review
“Excuse me! It’ll be a lot easier for ⎌me to write a glowing Air New Zealand review if I can get some water!” No, I didn’t actually say that, but I’ll bet that would’ve got my cup topped off really quick.

As usual, I’m always the last to know everything, and I didn’t discover the “dine on demand” menu on the personal video screen until just a few hours before landing.

It looked great, but I found it to be somewhat odd that the crew didn’t advertise it at any point during the flight. That’s ok I guess, because I suppose it did give me a legitimate excuse to get up to take a walk to the galley for water every now and then.

Air New Zealand video snack menu
Remember my Norwegian Airlines 787-9 economy experience? The one where literally everyone was ordering food non-stop all the way to LAX via the video menu? I didn’t see *anyone* doing it on this flight.
Air New Zealand 777 cabin
What do you suppose is happening up there in business class? Whatever it is, I’ll bet anything that it’s beautiful and delicious.

It’s also worth noting that you might want to bring ear plugs on any flight of this length. Especially on the 777, since it tends to have higher interior noise levels compared to similar aircraft. If you want to know how much more, I highly recommend checking out my A330 vs 777 comparison (where I listed out all of the individual decibel levels for each stage of flight).

The second meal service

Good news for those of you who are sick of me saying only nice things about Air New Zealand NZ001 so far. This is the point in the review where I have a legitimate complaint.

Air New Zealand mood lighting
Well, hold on a sec. I have no complaints about this blood red mood lighting. Take a moment to enjoy this pic, and the complaints will come after.

Ok, here we go. You see, the second meal service (which came two hours before landing) was one of those kinds of meals that we all secretly crave but always avoid because of how terrible we feel about ourselves after eating it.

A mac and cheese pot pie with a piece of red velvet cake to wash it down? Sounds delicious (and it was) but…good lord! Air New Zealand wants me dead. I’m sure of it.

Air New Zealand food pic
Making the decision to be a full time airline reviewer was difficult – especially since I knew I’d be tempted with meals such as this on a regular basis. Sure, it looks delicious. But ain’t no way that’s good for me!
Air New Zealand food review
Easily the most delicious-looking pic of this entire Air New Zealand review. Easily the most deadly as well.

I shudder to think that this second meal shaved a good 5 years off my life. On top of that, all I could do was sit there and silently apologize to my body for what I had just done to it. “I’m sorry little buddy!

Wrapping up this Air New Zealand review with some final thoughts

As we begin the descent into LAX, I am reminded of a neat little detail I forgot to show earlier: notification pop ups on the screen that have to be manually dismissed. A pretty neat way to get everyone to pay attention in my opinion.

In flight safety notification pop ups
From the ice cream served with the meal, to the art in the lavatories, to these little safety notification pop ups that have to be manually dismissed: there are some really smart (and creative) cookies on the Air New Zealand executive team.

And just like that…welcome to Los Angeles! If I would have had a window seat, you would’ve been gently guided to the conclusion of this review with window scenery pics all the way into LAX. However, since I had no view to the outside world during the landing, this ends rather abruptly. I know, and I do apologize.

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, the attention to detail throughout the entire flight made NZ001 my best long haul economy experience ever. Sorry Emirates. You’ve been forcefully bumped from my #1 spot.

Air New Zealand business class seats
Having arrived feeling great after sitting in an economy class seat for 12 hours…I couldn’t help but to imagine how good this business class experience would be. I’ll get to it eventually. Maybe? Probably (I hope).

Thanks so much for following along on my first ever Air New Zealand review, and I can only hope it’s gonna be the first of many to come. Unfortunately, it won’t be between London and Los Angeles again, since (as I mentioned earlier), this route is being discontinued next year.

In it’s place will be the launch of AKL-EWR, which sounds like a fantastic opportunity to give their businesses class product a proper try.

ZK-OKN Los Angeles
One last pic of ZK-OKN as I walked into the Tom Bradley International Terminal. This wasn’t enough to satisfy me however.
Air New Zealand 777-300ER ZK-OKN
Yes! That’s exactly the way I wanted to end this Air New Zealand review. I actually had to walk all the way back to the TBIT after clearing re-clearing security in Terminal 4 to get this pic. The things I do for this stupid blog…

Comments (4)

  1. Albert

    October 31, 2019
    • SANspotter

      November 1, 2019
  2. Nathan

    November 10, 2019
    • SANspotter

      November 10, 2019

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