That travelling to the other end of the world – at least from a European perspective – isn’t just all about fun, already emerged from my previous post. Not only is it distance wise a huge end to travel to New Zealand, but it also comes with unexpected annoyances, you would never think of before. But luckily you’ve got me on your side, to warn you about these things and to protect you from making the same mistakes. Happy days!
Which flight to choose?
So, let’s start off with choosing the right flight to New Zealand, because that is where the journey starts. When I visited New Zealand for the first time about 3 years ago, I choose to book the cheapest flight in order to save some money for travelling later on. Back then, the cheapest option was to fly with China Southern, which meant that I had to transfer twice within China. I didn’t really think about the eventual consequences, so at that moment I was just happy to book a flight for a – what I considered – reasonable price. Later on, however, I discovered that one of the layovers would be in between 2 days, and according to several sources on the Internet, I needed a transit Visa. Since I didn’t want to take any risk, I decided to buy this particular Visa, even though I wasn’t sure if it would be needed. My cheap flight at first glance, became suddenly not so cheap anymore. On my return flight to Holland even more problems occurred.
Anyway, to make a long story short, when I decided a few weeks ago to travel to New Zealand again, I looked for the most convenient and affordable flights at that moment. The best connection I could find was with Singapore Airlines (second flight operated by Air New Zealand), which would take me in 25-something hours from Amsterdam to Auckland, with a brief layover in Singapore. The price was a bit on the high end, but since Singapore Airlines is considered as one of the best, and they have an economy class luggage allowance of 30kg, I decided to give it a try.
From Amsterdam to Singapore with Singapore Airlines
When I checked in my luggage (1 big suitcase and 1 backpack) at Schiphol Airport, they didn’t weigh my 2 pieces of luggage very accurately. Therefore, my fear of exceeding the allowed weight was fortunately unfounded. Finally, an airline that isn’t too strict! Credits for that!
The first part of my journey was with a Boeing 777-300. I was seated on a right window seat at the back part of the aircraft (row 46). Luckily, there was only one person sitting next to me at the outside of the 3-seated row, which made it easier to get up for a walk, and also made sitting feeling more spacious. The entertainment system for this flight was alright, with many movies and other fun stuff to choose from (USB connection included). However, the screens felt slightly old (no touch screen) and small. When watching a movie, the sound was also a bit of a poor quality. To compare, I’ve tested it with different earplugs. Without subtitles, watching a movie was certainly a challenge. But to be fair, I’ve never experienced a good sound system in any aircraft before.
When it comes to food, I was a little disappointed, to be honest. The aircraft took off at 11:15 in the morning. Shortly after take-off, they served us lunch, which I was totally fine with, since I did have breakfast early that day. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t that tasty, something I was really surprised about. Even though the food they serve during long haul flights never has been a great hit, they did manage to improve it within the last years. Sometimes, I found them actually quite tasty. I’ve had good experiences with Emirates, just to name one. This time, though, that wasn’t the case.
Another thing I was surprised about when I checked the menu for this 13-hour flight, was that the next meal would be served just before landing in Singapore. And since this would be in the morning, the next meal they would serve was breakfast. So nothing in between, except of a small snack on request. This resulted in being hungry for the whole flight. I also noticed that other Dutch passengers were getting impatient at the clock of 18:00, the time Dutchies normally have dinner, and they even asked the flight attendants if they would serve any meal soon. I couldn’t blame them, since I was getting more and more hungry as well. At least, the flight attendants worked very efficiently and were attentive all the time, something I found very important.
From Singapore to Auckland with Air New Zealand
The flight from Singapore to Auckland was operated by Air New Zealand in a Boeing 787-9, also known as the Dreamliner. After a very short layover at Singapore’s Changi Airport, which is quite a nice one, it was time to board again. This would be my first time on a Dreamliner, and I was actually looking forward to it. My excitement eventually changed just about an hour later, when my legs – knees in particular – really began to hurt. I was seated on the outer side of the middle row, again at the back of the aircraft (row 55), so I was able to go for a walk whenever I wanted without disturbing anyone. But I just felt too tired to get up every time, so I stayed seated most of the flight. Don’t ask me how I survived…
The interior of the Dreamliner felt very spacious and the seats were also quite comfortable. Apparently, Air New Zealand adapted the economy seats of their Dreamliner fleet, whereby the angle of the recline is already set back one inch more than with other airlines, so the passenger already feels more comfortable from the beginning on. And yes indeed, this was definitely the case. The bigger windows, I think, are also a nice addition to the Dreamliner, like the 9 inch HD touch screen and Air New Zealand’s Inflight system. The screen was definitely better than the one with Singapore Airlines. I could even select and order which snacks or drinks the flight attendant should bring me, chat with fellow passengers through the Inflight system, and watch a movie with someone else. These I found, were nice extra features on the flight. Furthermore, the safety video of Air New Zealand was very creative and original, as I’ve heard before. For sure, fun to watch! Click here for one of their most epic safety videos.
Just as with Singapore Airlines, the food wasn’t any good during the Air New Zealand flight. Again, only 2 meals were served. However, this time, they also served fresh fruit, as in an apple, and delicious ice-cream in between the meals, which I considered as a big plus. The flight attendants were also very friendly, but a bit slow-paced, if you asked me. Maybe they tried to already introduce us to the laidback mentality of the Kiwis, who knows.
Even though I have quite some critics on both flights towards New Zealand, which will probably stay that way as long as I will continue travelling in economy class, my overall review is still positive. I definitely would choose the same airlines again, especially when compared to my previous experiences with China Southern. It was nice to have one of the fastest connections that airlines offer to Auckland. When it comes to travelling for more than 24 hours, every extra hour, on that already very long journey, counts in my opinion. Next time, I will still have to wear my compression socks in order to reduce the swelling and pain in my legs, that’s a fact. I will also pack some extra food, that’s also a fact.
What about you? Do you have any good or bad experiences on long haul flights and which airline would you recommend? Tell me about it in the comments!