If I tallied up the number of hours I’ve been in the sky over the past three years, I’m pretty sure the total would showcase a woman that has a serious addiction to flying and travel. The truth is I hate flying. I am a travel writer that hates flying. You would think I would have chosen a different profession, right? Well, I was always told to face my fears head on and I guess I translated that to mean you should face them as often as possible. Over the years, however, the dislike of flying has only grown worse, but I blame the experience of flying for that progression. Airlines that I used to adore have taken the joy right out of travel and up until last week, my stomach would always be in knots about boarding any plane, no matter what class of travel I was in. So here I was, signing up for yet another trip, this time with Visit California and Air New Zealand, and I was readying myself for the journey in the uber on the way to Heathrow. Any trip over eight hours needs a bit of a readjustment of thought. However, something funny happened at check in with Air New Zealand.
When I was checking in for my flight, as I had amateurly forgotten to check in online, the woman at the desk actually smiled at me as I approached her. I was checking into Economy and this nice young lady had yet to see my passport. I feel I need to say that immediately so that no one thinks I was getting any special treatment because I was a journalist about to embark on a review flight. She had no idea who I was and didn’t think I was some extra special person flying an extra special class. Then I looked across the desks and it seemed like everyone had a smile on their face. They all actually wanted to be there. To me, that says absolutely everything you need to know about any company. Sure, everyone has off days, but you always know something is a miss if every single employee looks miserable. Then you would think this woman had just won the lottery. She leapt out of her seat, handed me my passport and ticket and said, “get ready for a mighty nice flight, we’ve upgraded you to Air New Zealand business class. Don’t forget to use fast track and make sure to go to the lounge… they have the best treats.” Now again, I was reviewing Air New Zealand for this write up you are jogging through right now. But, there was no obligation for an upgrade. Of course I am not going to turn down the opportunity. I mean, would you? So off I went, to the lounge.
Now, it must be said that the lounge experience in itself is enough to relax any passenger before boarding. In fact, you wouldn’t be far off from thinking you actually already are on board. In the Heathrow lounge, they have these amazing little pods where you can escape to get any work done before flying. Work was the farthest thing from my mind, but I was very grateful to find sockets to plug in and charge my electrical devices. I then made my way over to check out the offering for food. The lounge was transitioning from afternoon tea to dinner and I was told I could indulge in both. There was wine, cheese, candy jars, a full bar and cookies galore. I mean one could spend all day here eating and easily leave a stone or two heavier. I had to keep my appetite in check. After all, I was headed to the land of Baywatch bikinis. So, I opted for a cheese plate, some caramel corn and rose. Come on, did you really think I’m that bothered by the bikini thought? You know me better than that. But wait for it… let’s get to the on board experience.
I don’t say this to be smug, but, this is not my first time around a business class cabin in all my years of travel. Although it does happen very rarely, it does happen and it’s usually as a result of my rewards programmes or miles I use to upgrade. I say this because I want you to understand that I can say, hands down, that there is not an airline staff in existence like that of the people on board Air New Zealand, in economy, premium economy or business class. The line “fly the friendly skies” was invented for this airline. Air New Zealand have won my heart, well and truly. From the moment I stepped onto the plane, until the moment I floated off in a Los Angeles daze, these lovely people were kind, comforting and always out-of-their-way polite. In fact, at one point we hit a little turbulence and one of the flight attendants saw me white-knuckling the chair. He came and sat in front of me and asked if I was ok. I told him I was just a bit of a nervous flier and he asked if I’d like it if he came over to check on me routinely if and when we hit any bumps. He assured me it was all ok and even had me laughing by the end of it. Now before you think I’m a complete baby, I do usually just suffer in silence. Ask most of the people I’ve been on press trips with and they’ll tell you they never even knew I had an issue. I prefer to keep it that way. But, when people go above and beyond the call of duty, I like to share. So I’m letting you in on this little secret.
Now that I’ve let the cat out of the bag about the fear of flying, let’s talk about more pleasant things, shall we? How about we dive into what made the journey all the more pleasant? I mean naturally we need to talk about the seat. Air New Zealand’s business class seats are fully transformable beds, complete with mattress pad, duvet and pillow. I’m 6’2 and I fit perfectly for a lengthy snooze. They also come equipped with a massive flat screen TV, a charging point for your phone and a table tray big enough for two to dine together (as the foot rest doubles as a seat, should you wish to dine with your travel companion). Basically, you are flying in your own little world of luxury comforts. You won’t hear anything but compliments from me about the entire setup.
But, I do think it’s time we talked food. Most travel writers will tell you to avoid the food on airplanes in any class, and for the most part I’d agree. But, when there’s a burger on the menu, I always tend to give it a go. Without naming other airlines, I’ll just say that I have had a few in the air in my time and none have ever left me wanting to try another. That being said, I still couldn’t resist giving Air New Zealand’s burger a go. So, I decided to leave sleep for a while and give dinner a try. We started off as meant to continue, with bubbles. I couldn’t possibly resist. After take off I was given champagne and toasted almonds as our first courses were prepared. With a burger on its way for the main, I started with something light to start – smoked salmon and cream cheese with a side of veg. It was delicious and suddenly I found myself with high expectations for the burger.
I was not let down…. look at this beast…
The Air New Zealand burger was the best burger I’ve had at 35,000 feet. With melting cheese in the middle, a toasted hot bun and a beautiful salsa ketchup, this felt like fine dining in the sky. Well, my kind of fine dining anyway. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they have truly made the perfect cheeseburger. I’ll let you in on a little secret…. I liked it so much I ordered it on the flight back as well. Aw, but then we have dessert…
Yes, dessert was an ice cream sundae complete with chocolate sauce and Cadbury’s chocolate flake. To say I was glad I stayed awake would be an understatement. I’m pretty sure I did a little dance in my seat with every course that arrived and I’m convinced the flight attendants thought I was some sort of food critic the way I was photographing, dissecting and taking notes on each and every plate.
And yes, the rumours are true. Air New Zealand serve CrossTown Doughnuts on their flights (as you’ll see from the main picture above). I couldn’t believe it. Doughnuts in flight? What next?! Sadly, I couldn’t eat my way through the entire flight. I was straight into a pretty rigorous itinerary the next day, so I had to get some shut eye. Before I could even ask, a woman appeared asking if she could turn my bed down for me. I went off to the toilet to take off my makeup and apply some heavy night cream (gotta try and look somewhat refreshed on the other side) and when I returned, my bed was made up and turned down, ready for me to jump in. I slept straight through. One hour before our wheels touched the ground in Los Angeles, I opened my eyes feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready to go. This was the first time EVER that I had slept on a flight for as long as I did. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I felt like I could spend an entire night out on the town. I was ready to go and oh so thankful for the in flight experience that is the norm for Air New Zealand. As I disembarked the flight, I felt like hugging each and everyone of the beautiful people that got me safely to Los Angeles. Too much? I sure hope not. In fact, I hope I’m fully communicating how impressed I was with this airline. So much so that my next flight to the West Coast of America will most certainly once again be with Air New Zealand. How could I fly with anyone else?
Now, before we wrap this up, I did want to share one more epic accomplishment with the in-flight dining with Air New Zealand. On my flight back to London, I was once again in the lap of luxury and slept nearly the whole flight back. In fact, I missed dinner! How on earth…. Anywho, I was awake for breakfast and I ordered Eggs Benedict. Can you think of something more difficult to request? And the eggs….they were cooked to perfection. Check this out….
A massive thank you to Air New Zealand to getting me to and from Los Angeles safely!
Discover a better way to fly to Los Angeles – Air New Zealand flies daily from London Heathrow to LA. Return flights start from £407 in Economy, £851 in Premium Economy and £2,843 in Business Premier. For the most up to date fares please visit https://www.airnewzealand.co.
Fashion Foie Gras worked in collaboration with Air New Zealand on this trip and review.