Air New Zealand

It’s not often I feel compelled to write about an airline, but Air New Zealand has tipped me over the edge.  Our London to Los Angeles flight was a total joy from the moment we checked in to the moment we left the plane.  Check-in staff were efficient, in fact beyond patient.  I’d used my old passport number to apply for an ESTA, and they waited while I completed all the detail on my mobile phone, for another.  We were invited to use the lounge that was lovely and an opportunity to relax into our holiday.  The flight was another matter.  We treated ourselves to Premium Economy seats, and the little extra outlay was worth it.  More legroom meant the largest seat pitch with comfortable recline, feet resting on a beanbag.We began with a hot towel service that promptly flowed into a drinks service.  Soon we were in the air, and it was time for food.  The menu has been conjured up by the New Zealand award-winning chef and restaurateur Peter Gordon and offered with wines from the area.

The salmon starter was unexpectedly tasty, and the meal just kept getting better.  Loch Fyne Whisky smoked salmon came with a celeriac and apple remoulade salad and fried capers.  There was a choice of warmed San Francisco sourdough, garlic and Spelt bread.

Loch Fyne Salmon, Air New Zealand

Mr and I both went for the seared turmeric crusted cod another winner.  The juicy, dense cod steak was accompanied by steamed coconut rice alongside a curry leaf and coconut sambal.

Coconut Sambal, Air New Zealand

The dessert (and Mr hates them) is inhaled in seconds.  A dense plum, fig and pistachio sable cake was topped with a dollop of creme fraiche.

Tart, Air New Zealand

Dessert, Air New Zealand

To end, a decent cup of coffee, served in a china mug.

Coffee, Air New Zealand

A typical example of this unblemished service came when I was hacking through my cheese cube.  I love cheese.  Within ten minutes of being seen enjoying it, a selection of three, with crackers, was dropped onto my tray table.

Cheese, Air New Zealand

Non-flowing drinks, coupled with a choice of great entertainment meant that this 11.5 hour flight was a complete pleasure and not a chore.

An afternoon tea began with a fresh fruit salad.A hot brioche frittata

Frittata, Air New Zealand

and a choice of Crosstown Doughnut, another Peter Gordon enterprise, from a choice of mixed berry or apple compote.

Apple compote, Crosstown Doughnut

Crosstown Doughnut, Air New Zealand

I even managed to sleep for 4 hours, unheard of for me on a long haul flight.

A perfect landing and earlier than expected.

We got to Los Angeles Airport fairly early for our return flight back to London, one of the first to check in,

Air New Zealand Check In, LA Airport

we were invited to use the Star Alliance lounge.

Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles

Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles

Star Alliance Lounge, Los Angeles

This time we were seated in the middle of the plane which I preferred. Not once was I knocked by cabin crew, just annoyingly the woman sat behind me who kept letting her tray table bounce down, which in turn caused my chair to ‘shudder’.

Premium Economy cabin, Air New Zealand

Kath looked after us both and we had a surprise reunion with the Purser and flight stewardess from our outbound leg.

Air Stewardess, Air New Zealand

Our menu seemed to be less impressive but I’ve always found that with an afternoon flight which goes into the night.

Prosciutto with melon, coriander salsa and white cheese was a nice start. The olive bread was delicious.

Prosciutto, Air New Zealand

Olive Bread, Air New Zealand

For the main course, the wood roasted chicken with curried fruit and nut rice pilaf, broccolini with a tahini yogurt sauce was really tasty.

Chicken, Air New Zealand

The pear mousse cake didn’t move me to try it, (seen with the strawberry in this picture). It probably wasn’t it just didn’t look too appetising.

New in-flight movies mean I caught up on The Martian (amazing) and Black Mass (violent yet captivating) and had a good four hours undisturbed sleep.

The at-your-seat ordering service meant I didn’t have to speak or move a muscle. Ordering ‘online’ meant a Baileys, a cookie and two sticks of chocolate were dropped on my tray table within minutes.

Ordering, Air New Zealand

In flight ordering, Air New Zealand

Subtle lighting changes in the cabin meant passengers went from pink to blue to orange, nudging passengers to sleep and wake up gently.

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Lighting, Air New Zealand

Breakfast was soon upon us and fresh fruit and granola was really welcome.

The flax seed grain waffles didn’t quite make the grade, they were stuck together in a clump, but the fruit and apple compote was scrumptious.

I’ve flown Virgin Atlantic and British Airways to LA in both classes, and I have to say this tops them both. I’d recommend Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy service to anyone – so convinced of this airline’s quality, we’re planning a trip to New Zealand for Christmas this year.

A huge thank you to Damian,  Laureene, Kath and the Purser in charge of both our flights, who not only managed to keep Mr updated with cricket scores, made sure our cups and plates were full, pillows fluffed and that we were totally entertained.