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For the average traveler thinking of a direct route between the UK and the US, Air New Zealand does not is the first airline to think about the flight route. But Air New Zealand operates a fifth non-stop route from London Heathrow to Auckland, New Zealand via Los Angeles (LAX).
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On my recent trip flying with Air New Zealand, I had a great experience with the hybrid economy product, Skycouch. So I want to know how the business experience compares. And is the path to the fifth freedom different from the path of the former New Zealand?
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Unfortunately, the airline announced in October that it plans to cancel the London-Los Angeles 5th Freedom from October 2020 in favor of a non-stop service between Auckland (AKL) and Newark (EVR). While we’re sad to see this happy 5th Freedom Trail go, there’s still plenty of time to hop on another special flight.
When it comes to the world’s strangest 5th highway, Air New Zealand’s non-stop flight from London (LHR) to Los Angeles (LAX) is number one. And for those unfamiliar with the Air New Zealand aircraft on the ground at Heathrow, raise an eyebrow.
The airline operated Air New Zealand Flight 1 on a Boeing 777-300ER, originating from London, flying to LA and then to Auckland (AKL) – all with the same flight number. The plane made a two-hour stop in Los Angeles to refuel as well as pick up and drop off new passengers.
Return flights in business class – or Business Premier as the airline calls it – typically start at around £4,200 for a full NZ1 journey. However, for the LHR-LAKS leg that I chose to fly, the return price was around £2,700. I need this flight to position myself for another flight, so I only need one ticket, which is a convenient distance.
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As an Air New Zealand member of the Star Alliance, there are great opportunities to use your points and miles for the Business Premier experience. Although United is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner and a viable option for flying within the US, the airline was charging 70,000 miles for a one-way ticket from LHR to LAX when I looked.
Meanwhile, Avianca’s LifeMiles offers a better option. The program, known for its sweet rewards, charges 63,000 lifetime miles plus taxes and $327 (£253) per ticket.
NZ1 departs London at 16:15 and arrives at LAX at 19:40. local time, then depart again at 9:40 a.m., arriving in Auckland at 5:30 a.m. As a member of the Star Alliance, Air New Zealand operates a second terminal at Heathrow.
I arrived at LHR early – maybe too early – at 12:45pm. I am the only person using the business line, except for a couple. There were only a few passengers in the regular check-in queue. The agent who checked my luggage was not enthusiastic and I was able to travel quickly and safely.
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At Terminal 2, premium passengers are entitled to freeway access. Again, I was one of only a few people in line, so I ended up In two minutes and go to rest.
As a business class passenger in Star Alliance, I have a choice between Lufthansa Business Lounge, United Club, Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge and Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge.
After checking all the seats in Heathrow, I took the advice of TPG UK content producer Dan Ross and headed to the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge at T2. I have high expectations from salons. Dan told me it’s the best choice, especially if I like beer (I do) because of the homemade brew. won.
Seats at exit B44 and labeled Lounges B2 and B3 are adjacent to Air Canada Maple Leaf seats.
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However, keep in mind that if you plan to sit in Singapore (or Air Canada seats for that matter)
. I mean, it built a lot of passes, tunnels and walkways. I walked at high speed and took about 15 minutes from safety.
As with the check-in and security process, the rest of the area was very quiet when I entered. The living room looks modern and contemporary with wood finishes and feels fresh. There is also a lot of natural light in the lobby.
Most of the time, I like to choose spacious seats in the living room. There is a special dining area with a lounge and my favorite sitting area, the perfect private place to work. It should be noted that most seats have full power outlets nearby.
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Unlike the living room with lots of seating, the dining room doesn’t get much natural light. In addition, the buffet area is spacious. Since I was there around lunchtime, there were many sections of the buffet that were well stocked, with both hot and cold food.
Most of the hot dishes are Asian and Indian inspired, from chicken noodles to masala eggs and basmati rice.
There are also several stations for cold drinks and tea, as well as an ice station for self-service. For a sweet tooth like me, that’s a big plus. Also, did I mention the popcorn? Popcorn with flavor.
The bar also meets my expectations. And while the highlight is probably the server itself, the other drink options are great. The bartender is also very friendly.
But my favorite part of all the seating is the commentary book kept at the bar. I took some time to turn around and read the other travelers who passed by and their usual messages of “Great meeting room!” The comment book is a small touch, but a book that shows that Singapore Lounge cares and cares about it, its guests and their experience.
I took some time to explore the lobby, which was getting more and more crowded as I neared my departure. Bathrooms are perfectly maintained – a common theme.
I arrived at the gate of the waiting bird, a 777-300ER, painted in my favorite Air New Zealand colors. White and black. The aircraft registered ZK-OKR is only five years newer. It was delivered to Air New Zealand in June 2014, where it has operated ever since, according to PlaneSpotters.net.
Arriving at the gate, around 3 pm. And boarding was about to begin, but there was no movement. There is no ground crew movement. There is no movement of passengers. The crew has not yet boarded the plane and there is no message for the passengers. It wasn’t until 3:25 that boarding started and there was little communication during the delayed process, not a good way to start a long flight.
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However, it is a small price to pay. The second part of my experience on the ground was amazing, with the seats being the highlight.
One of my favorite parts of the cabin is most obvious when you first board the boat – the soothing purple/pink light that covers the cabin. And the lights are just the beginning of the design features on the Air New Zealand 777 that give it so much more. Kiwi’s life, which I find really charming.
While the cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, the spine design is an outdated version of the traditional spine.
In total, the business class cabin has 44 seats, divided between two smaller cabins. The front cabin has 28 seats and the rear cabin has 16 seats. Between the two small cabins are two bathrooms and a kitchen with a self-service bar. There is also a third bathroom at the front of the aircraft, next to the cockpit door.
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Each seat is 22 inches wide, which is wide on paper, but narrow in reality. If you have broad shoulders, be aware that chair designs can feel coffin-like and claustrophobic.
This seat is most comparable to the old Virgin Atlantic premium seats, which the airline has actively discontinued with the launch of new premium seats on its Airbus A350.
For AvGeeks, the cabin configuration is especially painful because the interior forces you to look inside the cabin, where you have to stick to the window. Another major disadvantage
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