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
Duration: 10 hours 28 minutes
Seat: 40H (economy class)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
You’ll also get well-padded headphones (perfect for watching Trips with Rory videos, of course):
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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?
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.
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.
Oh. Wanna know what makes SANspotter happy? A bathroom with plenty of quality reading material.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.