Following on from yesterday’s guest post about bidding for an upgrade on Air New Zealand, here is a review of the actual flight from Houston to Auckland. It certainly sounds like a very comfortable experience!

Guest post by Rinaz Ali.

When you first step into Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy cabin on their new 787-9, you’re greeted with somewhat garish mauve/fuschia mood lighting, like you’ve wandered onto the set of a soft core porn movie.

The mood lighting should explain the colour of my photos – it’s not the result of me being a moron and using the wrong filter or something.

NZ29 – Houston to Auckland (IAH-AKL)
22 February 2018
Boeing 787-9 – ZK-NZM
Seat: Premium Economy 27B
Departure: 20:00 Arrival: 05:55+2

On your seat, you’ll find a bottle of dihydrogen monoxide, a cotton blanket (none of that polyester crap here), a pillow that was almost full size and very fluffy, and headphones. The headphones are large and do a good job of cupping your ear holes and blocking much of the outside sound (read: screaming babies), though the sound quality itself is fairly tinny.

Thankfully, you can plug your own headphones directly into the 787’s audio jack without the need for an adapter. There was also the menu and a little amenity kit. I have to admit as this was a few months ago I don’t remember what was in the amentity kit, but let’s just assume it was socks, a toothbrush and eye mask. It usually is.

The Air New Zealand Premium Economy Seat

The seat itself is exceptionally comfortable, with oodles of leg room. Draped in black leather, it reclines half way and has a retractable footrest. I didn’t take more photos of the seat because I didn’t want to guy sitting next to me too think I was weird.

He was about 6’6″ and he was able to recline in ease, as was I. You may need an Engineering degree to figure out the mechanism to release the footrest, and thankfully I do, so I was able to help the clueless beanstalk next to me figure it out.

Entertainment Time

Did someone say entertainment? Yes, they have that, too. While essentially the same entertainment system as in economy, the touch screen is quite large – easily the biggest I’ve seen. New Zealand is culturally diverse, so in addition to mainstream TV and movies, there were Bollywood films, South Korean dramas, and of course The Hobbit, since New Zealand still can’t get over Lord of the Rings.

I watched Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” and the colourful film looked bright and faithfully reproduced on the LCD screen. Also, I cried at the end of that movie. Damn you, Pixar, you did it again.

Under the screen is a USB jack so you can recharge any of your electronic devices without having to search blindly under your seat for a power outlet and being charged for sexual assault by the passenger next to you. Geez, Todd, man up. Yes you’re 6’6″, but you’re totally not my type.

Foodie Heaven On Board

Air New Zealand always has good food, and in Premium Economy, it was exceptional. To start was Mozarella and heirloom tomato with mango chilli and basil dressing. I recommend pairing it with a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As I’m used to drinking my wine out of a box, I was quietly impressed with the wine selection.

As I am vegan, I had the slow cooked beef brisket with marscapone mashed potatoes, roasted baby turnip, carrots and green beans. This was delicious and none of the food ever had that “just microwaved” texture. I don’t know if they actually cook the food onboard or not, probably somebody better at writing reviews or eating can confirm this. I paired this with several bottles of Steinlager, mainly since I missed Australian/New Zealand beer living in the states for over five years.

After dinner, I watched a documentary about the Topp Twins, New Zealand’s answer to a question no one asked. Truly national treasures, I suggest you look them up on the interwebs. Combined with two Ambien and more Steinlager, this helped to knock me out for the remainder of the flight.

Breakfast Time

I had a pleasurable fifteen or so hours before breakfast was served. I went with the Continental breakfast because I’m Jewish. The tea comes in an actual, full-sized mug along with fruit, cereal and yoghurt.

Not long after breakfast was served, we landed at the crack of dawn in the sprawling, bustling metropolis that is Auckland.

Overall Thoughts

All in all, the cabin crew were attentive and pleasant, food was superb and you could order unlimited drinks from the comfort of your screen without having to talk to anybody – perfect for introverts and shut ins. I would highly recommend the Premium Economy to everyone, especially since I flew back on Economy and the seats are some of the narrowest I’ve experienced.

I give it five Steinlager bottles out of five. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Darren Koch via