Slept through my first alarm, and was running late in the morning. As I rounded the corner from my room, I saw the elevator there and people heading for it. I picked up my pace a bit and ran for it, putting my hand in the doors to keep it open…which caused a flurry of Chinese and some excitement from the already fully elevator. Given the earpieces and the way they all freaked out, I’m pretty certain I was in the elevator with President Xi, lol. You’d think they’d control the elevators so they don’t stop or something?!
Checked out, stopped by Starbucks to fuel up, managed to find the airport bus, and given the relatively early hour it was a nice quick traffic free drive to the airport. Check-in was pain-free as well, and I had a time for a quick snack in the lounge before boarding. I just had a small nibble at it, knowing there would likely be more in flight:
Got to the gate just as boarding was starting, and was one of the first on board to grab a photo. I’ve actually never taken a business class flight before with herringbone seats, and was curious how I’d like it. Generally, I strongly prefer planes with all-aisle access business class so I’m not having to either climb over people or have people climb over me.
Air New Zealand flight 99
Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) to Tokyo/Narita, Japan (NRT)
Depart 9:45, Arrive 16:55, Flight Time 11:10
Boeing 777-200, Registration ZK-OKG, Manufactured 2006, Seat 4K
First thought, these seats look crammed in there and people are right on top of each other:
I usually am very meh about amenity kits, but these came with awesome socks that matched my shoes. Everything goes better with bubbles:
Looks like two full meals today, breakfast and dinner:
As soon as we took off, the crew came around with a tray of blueberry and banana smoothies for everyone:
Next up, the starter of muesli, yogurt, and fruit:
Pain au chocolat…on a plate!
Champagne brunch…once I broke the ice I swear another 10+ people asked for champagne as well. I love setting a good example.
After brunch, I kicked back and watched maybe four hours of tv or so. Halfway through the flight the crew came through with a cart of sandwiches and ice cream as a mid-flight snack. Not this United nonsense of throwing out a snackbasket for you to fend for yourself, it was a full on proper snack service. Pay no attention to the white wine. I don’t drink white wine. The purser insisted I try New Zealand’s white wines, and I have to admit I enjoyed it.
After the snack, a few more hours of tv and movies for me, before it was time for the main event. Dinner service. They had garlic bread…I was in Heaven.
The desert wine and the desert were phenomenal:
Plus a full-on cheese course with fig jam. YUM.
Overall impression on Air New Zealand: I was worried about the seats being a bit crammed, but I loved them. Full aisle access, reasonably private, nobody climbing over you, and decent sized video screen. The crew? Absolutely amazing, and possibly the best in flight crew I’ve ever had. The perfect mix of friendly, professional, and just a joy to be around. They were always there when you needed them, and any and all requests were met with a smile.
The food was over the top for business class, and I’m pretty sure I gained a few pounds on this flight alone. I’m used to longhauls having one meal and one snack, but two full meals plus a full-sized snack was awesome.
Verdict: far and away the best business class I’ve ever flown anywhere in the world.
Landed right on time in a cold and rainy Tokyo…and when I say rainy I mean absolutely pouring rain. I was through immigration and had my bags in less than ten minutes, and then it was off to find an ATM and the bus to my hotel. From previous trips to Japan I knew that ATMs in the city don’t often accept foreign cards, so you need to get out any cash you might want at the airport. Had no problem there, and finding the shuttle bus to the Hilton was easy as well.
I had originally planned on staying in Tokyo at the Sheraton, but given a 5p arrival and early afternoon departure the next day, spending the time and money on the trek into Tokyo seemed to be silly. On top of that, hotels in Narita were over $100 less expensive as well. Since I’d never explored Narita before, I decided to stay at the Hilton Narita for the night.
…and good thing I did…I got a fabulous upgrade:
Caught the hotel shuttle into Narita city, where I did a bit of wandering about. The shuttle was airline crew central, and I think 99% of the people on it were pilots and flight attendants who are in Narita frequently. After being in the rain for 20-30 minutes I was pretty soaked, and picked the first place that had a reasonable number of people in it for dinner. They had an omakase menu, so that made ordering easy. Starter:
It was super tasty, reasonable (about 4500 Yen), and hit the spot. I was ready to crash after a long day on the plane, and headed back to the hotel and passed out. Breakfast is included at the property for Hilton Diamonds, and they had tater tots and bacon. Most awesome hotel ever!
After breakfast I did a bit of catching up on work before catching the shuttle back to the airport. It was time to head to Seoul!