Our Managing Director recently flew Business Class on Air New Zealand from Adelaide to Vancouver via Auckland, then returning from Los Angeles to Adelaide via Auckland, all of which were operated by a variety of aircraft from Air New Zealand. From Adelaide to Auckland we flew Air New Zealand's Airbus 321 Neo, while Auckland to Vancouver was operated by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. On the return flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, we flew on the Boeing 777-3000. During this trip, we also visited the Air New Zealand International Business Class Lounge in Auckland.
Kicking off the first leg of the journey was the flight from Adelaide to Auckland on the Air New Zealand Airbus 321 Neo. This aircraft doesn't offer a Business Class or Premium Economy cabin, so booking 'Works Deluxe' is the closest you'll get to Business Class. The first few rows are dedicated to Works Deluxe passengers, with a guaranteed middle seat blocked out for additional space and extra legroom. If there's a higher number of Works Deluxe bookings, they will block out the middle seat in additional rows but these won't have the extra leg room.
Works Deluxe offers a complimentary meal and beverage, entertainment, priority check in and boarding and 2 pieces of check in luggage. The aircraft itself was fairly new and quiet with a great updated TV system, but did have limited entertainment options which isn’t too bad for a short flight. The meals served were nothing special but not surprising given the product is still essentially an Economy service.
Prior to our departure from Auckland airport, we visited the Air New Zealand International Business Class Lounge. You can read more about our review of the lounge here.
The flight from Auckland to Vancouver was operated by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner while the return flight from Los Angeles to Auckland was on the Boeing 777-300. The Business Premier seats were the same design and product as each other however the B787 had a 1-1-1 layout. The middle seats were facing to the right so would be the best choice for couples and groups as they were able to face the same aisle while the seats on the left provided more privacy for single travellers as they had their own aisle. The B787 has a 1-1/1-1 layout with the two middle seats facing toward each aisle.
The seats on both aircraft were 55.9cm wide with a fully flat bed of 2m on a memory foam mattress with duvets and pillows provided. The service provided was ok but had dropped a little from their pre-Covid highs and while the cabin managers were consistently brilliant, in the teal uniform, the entry level flight attendants wearing purple were a bit more average.
The seats had a limited recline option and had to be flipped over to turn into the fully lie flat bed, which was a slight nuisance. The upside to the bed design is a more comfortable mattress on the underside of the seat when the back falls forward however the ottoman for the footwell is narrow and can be annoying even if you’re 5’10. A taller passenger could find it quite uncomfortable.
The biggest issue on board was the process of setting up the bedding and converting in and out of the fully flat position. The crew were focussed on undertaking this on their own agenda which meant they started the process around 2.5hours prior to landing in both directions. While we felt there was still more time to sleep, they were pressuring you to sit up and pack up the bedding. The reclined position of the seat is minimal and there isn’t a more reclined option between this and fully lie-flat.
Once in the lie flat position, the best part was a nice and comfortable pillow and a good blanket although it did get quite hot and was possibly too thick for the temperature of the flight, despite being soft and comfortable.
The meals offered were unfortunately a little disappointing. The appetisers had odd flavour combinations while the mains were not too bad, but not as good as they used to be. The option to add on to a main protein was a welcome way to get in a reasonable amount of healthy sides although this could have been explained better by the crew. Breakfast was more of a let down on all flights with dry pancakes and near inedible eggs. There seemed to be an inconsistency as to what you are offered for breakfast as they only take an order for main, then we weren’t offered all the fruit/muesli/pastries nor did they come around with a cart service as expected.
The continental meal delivery was patchy and the service team seemed rushed packing up the flight rather than trying to provide a better service experience in the morning. The additional responsibility of the crew making up the bedding really gets in the way of a more relaxed meal offering in your preferred seating position as it’s not possible to have breakfast when the bed is in the lie flat position.
The entertainment provided was limited, especially after taking 4 flights in a 2-3 week period and finding the same options available, much of which was New Zealand related content and of limited appeal to an international audience. The B787 and A321 Neo’s had a better screen system than the B777 but could still benefit from 50% more content to offer, however it seems they are cost cutting for licensing. This is in contrast to Air Canada, which we flew on the same trip, who had a much broader offering.
The amenity kits included ear plugs, Ashley & Co lip balm & hand cream, White Glo mouthwash and a dental care kit. All good items but not an amazing offering. The headphones were not bad but not Bose or another well known brand. We would recommend you bring your own if you have them.
Storage at your seat is limited to a small cubby space which isn’t able to fit larger items and it meant we needed to store our items in the corner of the seat/bed.
Before bedtime, Air New Zealand usually offers passengers a Bliss Sleep Ritual with sleepy tea, sleep balm and a light snack. We experienced this service on the Auckland to Vancouver flight however when we requested it again on the Los Angeles to Auckland flight, despite being the first to request it, they didn’t have enough supplies to provide the service.
Overall, the Business Class product offered on the Air New Zealand Boing 787-9 Dreamliner and Boeing 777-300 was good but needs some additional work to improve efficiency and the overall experience. Although it has good features such as a comfortable mattress and large pillows, the process of setting up the bed made it slightly more difficult than other airline flat beds. With the airline introducing a new Business Class product in 2024 to replace the current product, we are excited to see this change take effect.