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Reviewing Air New Zealand Business Class and Premium Economy to Hawaii

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Air New Zealand offers Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class on its flights between Auckland and Honolulu.  As the flight time is generally over eight hours in each direction, we review the merits of flying Business Class and Premium Economy.

Overview of the Auckland / Hawaii Flight Times

The Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Honolulu is an overnight flight, departing Auckland after 10pm and arriving around 7am into Honolulu (you gain a day here when crossing the date line). This arrival time in Honolulu has a history of presenting a challenge for booking hotels, as rooms generally aren’t available until early afternoon (requiring either the room to be booked from the day before or a morning of strolling Waikiki).

The flight home is a day flight, departing from Honolulu in the morning, arriving in Auckland early evening on the following day (again impacted by the dateline).

With both the arrival and departure times the Honolulu rush hour traffic needs to be taken into account.  On arrival a fixed fare transfer may avoid watching a taxi meter ticking over while stationary on a four lane highway.  On departure, make sure you allow enough time to get to the airport.

Onboard in Business Premier and Premium Economy

Business Premier Seat

Air New Zealand currently operates a three-cabin configuration 777-200 between Auckland and Honolulu (Business Premier, Premium Economy and Economy).  We find that Honolulu is rarely included in Air New Zealand’s North America sales, although it will be interesting to see if this continues as Bali’s popularity continues to increase and the relatively strong US Dollar makes Hawaii more expensive.

The Business Premier seats are the herringbone design (with the ottoman foot rest) and a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration.  The seat and bed configuration is comfortable without feeling generous.  Fine Travel clients who favour Emirates, Singapore Airlines Business Class seats or the Qatar Airways Qsuite for flights to the UK and Europe may note the difference in space and privacy.

In Premium Economy the seats offer a more generous recline than Economy (but perhaps not quite enough to get past that “head rocking forward” angle when sleeping), and footrests (the ones with an extension that needs to be pushed out with some force).  The configuration is 2 – 4 – 2 so it is possible to get “trapped” in the middle seat, although the spacing between rows is generous.  The Premium Economy menu is similar to Business Premier, but with fewer options and a more basic presentation.

For Fine Travel clients debating whether to fly Business Premier or Premium Economy between Auckland and Honolulu, we have the following observations:

  • The overnight flight from Auckland makes it appear logical to fly Business Premier and take advantage of the lie-flat seat – waking to breakfast and a relatively undisturbed body clock.
  • From a practical onboard perspective, for an 8 ½ hour flight (and on our flight it was an hour quicker), once the seat belt sign has been extinguished, drinks and supper served, (and cleared) and the crew set up the bed, it is likely to be around midnight (NZ time) before you close your eyes. You may then only have a less than refreshing 4 hours sleep before you and your fellow passengers begin to stir and breakfast is served.
  • If this potential experience puts you in two minds, you may wish to consider booking Business Class, eating dinner in the Air New Zealand lounge and then asking the crew to set up your bed as soon as possible.  Skip supper onboard and take the opportunity for a longer night’s sleep.
  • If you don’t sleep well on planes, regardless of the seat, consider booking Premium Economy and try using a Recognition or One Up upgrade – accepting that in either cabin you’re unlikely to get a full night’s sleep.

As the return flight is a day flight, the angle and spacing of the Premium Economy seats are more than comfortable for reading, watching movies and catching up on emails (where onboard WIFI is enabled).

Planning a Hawaiian Holiday

As a full service travel agency, Fine Travel can assist with planning and booking all aspects of a Hawaiian holiday, including airfares, accommodation, transfers, cruises and importantly (for the US) travel insurance.