I was standing in the departures hall waiting for the last few minutes to tick over before I could check in,which so happens to be next to the Air New Zealand Sales Counter. And I went for it. I knew I had a bit of Airpoints up my sleeve, so decided to see if I could do an upgrade. Turns out I could, and so I found myself going Premium Economy. The cost was about $240, which for an 11 hour flight works out to be about $21 an hour. It first starts at check in. Unlike the poor people flying Jetstar (go Business – there was no one in that line, and the economy line could have snaked outside the airport), Air New Zealand was pretty quiet for check in. But still, you get to use the special check in, and it’s nice. I was served within two minutes, and two minutes later was catching the lift through to Customs. There’s a special person put aside just for premium passengers, and so I was served immediately. You then merge for security.
Auckland Airport is one of the top ten airports in the world, and it’s pretty nice and efficient, and has a good flow. Maybe it wasn’t very busy the day I went, but from check-in to the shops it must have been about 10 minutes, five of those me emptying my pockets. There’s a MAC counter in duty free (it’s really just JR Duty Free), and Kathryn asked me to get some goods for her. One cool thing is being able to purchase on the way out, and then pick up on arrivals. It makes a lot of sense, which should I have to carry liquor or makeup all the way somewhere else, just to bring them back to New Zealand.
I happened to have a Koru lounge pass by spending too much on my credit card, so I took advantage of that. Look, the food is generally pretty ok, bordering on average. There’s free wine, beer, spirits, and soft drinks. There’s wifi, a TV lounge, a photocopier (great for making copies of the passport), but even if that all disapeared, I wouldn’t mind. The only thing I really like is the shower. Being able to have a shower to refresh yourself is amazing. If the airport just offered showers I’d probably take that instead. Still, the rest of it was nice.
Before boarding the plane, I was seated in one of those massaging chairs. People were giving me dirty looks like I was masturbating. Know me before you judge me. But seriously, those massage chairs are awesome, and since all the good chairs are always gone at an airport you can put a coin in, and then keep sitting there after the chair’s stopped working.
One of the other advantages of going Premium Economy is being able to board the plane first. And I did. I was the first passenger on the plane. Booyah! The seats are still the same width as Economy, but there’s a bit more leg room. If I had a foot rest I’d be able to put my feet up, but bare in mind I am a little person. Still, the extra legroom is delightful, as is the fact there’s hardly anyone up here, in my row of nine, there’s three people, one in each segment. They offer you a glass of bubbles while others are getting seated, and there’s a menu for the food, rather than the regular “Chicken or beef?” question.
Much to my surprise as I’m sitting there drinking some orange juice watching the passengers board, does my eyes lock with one famous Ido Trent of Shortland Street fame, and his beautiful wife. And they walk past. To Economy. I wonder if this is there honeymoon? C’mon Ido, at least I tried to upgrade Kathryn and I to Premium Economy. How much is Shortland Street paying these days? And I know you did that Woman’s Weekly spread. I smiled.
As I write this we’re 350km away from Port Moresby. Amazing. I’m thankful that that’s not my final destination. Six hours more to go.