Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Air New Zealand, SYD-AKL, NZ104, Business Class

I generally fly with One World airlines when I fly from Sydney to San Francisco, but for this trip, I decided to go with Air New Zealand.  I had 3 main reasons (and none were the price).

One: I no longer have One World status, and I couldn't quite imagine going to the Sydney airport and not getting to experience the ridiculous {Qantas First Class Lounge}.

Two: The Qantas and American flights from Sydney to San Francisco are day flights, departing around noon, and that makes sleep nearly impossible.  But you need to sleep, because the flight arrives in the morning.  It is miserable, and I know it.

Three:  I just don't like the seats on Qantas or American that much.

Thus, I opted for Air New Zealand, which I'd flown on only once before {LINK}.  The flight times worked out better: 11:50am departure from Sydney, 2.5 hour layover in Aukland, and then early evening departure from Aukland.  It made me have *some* hope of getting some sleep, particularly because I know the beds are quite comfortable.

The first step in my journey was checking out the brand new Air New Zealand lounge, which I enjoyed particularly as I was able to catch the tail end of breakfast service AND lunch service (not that I needed either, as I'd just feasted on "one last" hotel breakfast too).

The Experience

My flight was NZ104, Sydney to Auckland, with a departure time of 11:50am.  It was a full international business class, even though a fairly short flight, just like I'd flown on before on my SFO-AKL and AKL-SFO flights a few years ago, rather than the "Works Deluxe" service I had on the shorter AKL-SYD and SYD-AKL a few years ago.
Business Cabin.
I didn't utilize the sleeping mode of the seat since it was just a 3 hour hop over to New Zealand, mid-day, but the seat was comfortable enough for sitting, had convenient storage (under the ottoman in front for my laptop bag, huge overhead bin for my roller bag, and cubbies for my water bottle and even my laptop.  USB and power plugs were easily accessible.  I listened to music on the entertainment unit, and tried to browse movies, but I found the laggy, janky, horrible touch screen to be too annoying to be worth it.

The service was incredible, and we were very well looked after.

Standard drinks were offered as we boarded (sparkling wine, water, orange juice), and I opted for sparkling water.  I was happy when I provided a glass and a full bottle.  I drink a lot of sparkling water, and I was glad to have some during the lull between takeoff and drink service.
Sparkling Water, Spiced Almonds.
However, I wouldn't have needed to wait long anyway.  Before we even took off, we were asked what we'd like our post-takeoff drink to be.  As soon as we were underway, the drinks were delivered.  I was boring and opted for just sparkling water, as it was still before noon, and I had nearly 24 hours of travel time lined up and wanted to take it easy on the alcohol.

Our drinks came with a little bowl of spiced almonds.  I found them strangely satisfying, even though I wasn't hungry at the time.
The menu was available at our seats when we sat, a choice of 2 starters, 3 mains, and 3 desserts.

To Begin:
  • Smoked salmon with wasabi mayonnaise, tomato jelly, tobiko roe, and micro herbs
  • Prosciutto with grilled artichockes, Fiddler's Hill goat's cheese, Kalamata olives, and paprika walnut tarator
From the Bakery:
Oatmeal honey rolls, garlic bread, spelt seeded, and traditional bread

  • Horseradish crumbed beef filet, crushed potatoes, sage carrots, and minted pea puree
  • Malabar prawn curry with steamed basmati rice, pineapple butterbean, and coconut sauce
  • Roasted chicken breast salad with bulgur wheat, feta cheese, and minted cucumber with pistachio dressing
To Finish:
  • Gourmet dessert of triple chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and salty sweet popcorn
  • Lemon brulee tart with brown sugar pastry, mascarpone cream, and caramelized oranges
  • Fine New Zealand cheese served with quince paste and cracker selection
Once underway, meal service began promptly.

The first course was served from a trolley, chilled appetizers and assorted breads, plus a selection of two white (chardonnay or savignon blanc) and two red (pinot noir and syrah) wines.

It was barely 12pm, and I was stuffed from having one last Eggs Benedict at my hotel lounge, and then a huge second breakfast in the lounge.  I was simply not hungry, although the salmon appetizer really did sound interesting (and it looked pretty good when I spied on my neighbor's selection).

Instead, I opted for just a little wine.  Again, the service impressed.  I was offered a taste or a full pour, and even shown the bottles when I asked what wine was available, rather than just a simple "pinot or syrah".

The wine was actually really quite good, not heavy on the tanin, but quite flavorful.

The main dish was served after appetizers were cleared, and each customer was approached and asked what they would like.  They were delivered moments later, so, clearly they just heat up a ton of meals, rather than only heating what people order.  An interesting approach, unlike other airlines.

The staff continued to circulate during the meal service with a bread basket, offering refills regularly.  Same with wine.  Really, amazingly attentive.
"Gourmet dessert of triple chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and salty sweet popcorn."

I did however still opt for dessert (I mean really, you must know me by now), and was torn between the choices.  It was daytime, so my no chocolate rule didn't rule out the ice cream, although chocolate ice cream isn't ever my top pick.  But sweet popcorn?  I adore that.  And I know they serve decent ice cream on board.  The other non-cheese dessert also sounded good, as I love mascarpone and brown sugar pastry, but ... I don't really like lemon desserts.

Thus, the ice cream it was.

The ice cream was ... ok.  It wasn't particularly creamy and was a bit icy.  I'm not sure what the "triple chocolate" was, the base was chocolate, and there were a few chocolate chunks, but that is only two chocolates.  What was the third?  It was also overly sweet, a bit strange for chocolate ice cream.

The chocolate sauce on top was just that, chocolate sauce, not a thick fudge as I hoped.  It too was crazy sweet.

The popcorn was great though, I'm a sucker for kettle corn.  A bit strange on ice cream, but I actually liked dunking it in the chocolate sauce.
Decaf Coffee.
To go with my dessert, I also had decaf coffee, served in a nice big mug.

It was fine, not remarkable, but I think not instant.
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