The first of Air New Zealand’s five shiny new Airbus A321neo aircraft began flying in November 2018 to great applause. We tested out one of their shiny new toys to see what all the fuss is about.

Air New Zealand’s neo aircraft will now service the airline’s Tasman and Pacific Island destinations with the airline saying that these next-generation aircraft “are key to offering our customers a great inflight experience.”

I got the chance to fly a neo out of the Gold Coast on a recent hop over to Auckland. So was it a great inflight experience? Read on.

 

CHECK IN & PRE-BOARDING

The best thing about catching an international flight from the Gold Coast Airport is the smug feeling you get because it’s so fantastically easy at every single step.

From parking painlessly (and affordably), to dropping your bag minus a queue (having checked in on the Air New Zealand app) and then breezing through the small immigration zone before a short walk to boarding the plane. Oh, the freedom, cash and hassle you save from the joys of flying out of a small airport.

Even the staff are cheerier and genuinely excited for you that you’re going somewhere overseas.

Believe me when I say that travelling often as I do for work, these are the small pleasures to be cherished.

 

THE CABIN & SEAT

Air New Zealand’s A321neo has 214 seats in a 3-3 configuration. As an added bonus, this one comes with that welcome ‘new car’ scent that also made me feel a little bit special.

There’s no Business class here by design, but there is a ‘Space+ zone’ from rows two to nine (for seats A, B and C) or two to seven (D, E and F).

Space+ seats are available to Air New Zealand Airpoints Elite and Gold members, Koru members and Works Deluxe passengers, and have a generous 83cm pitch, compared to 76cm in the standard seats.

All up though, the comfy, soft leather, slim-line seats offer up to 7% more space than the current international A320 fleet and are also wider – 3cm for the middle seat and 1cm for the aisle and window seats. As small as that may sound, you do certainly feel the benefit.

I’m in 14F in the window and end up having a spare seat in the middle which made for an even more spacious journey. The padded leather seats are excellent as is the headrest and the overall feel. Quality.

There are larger overhead lockers with around 25% additional volume of space for cabin baggage storage than the current international A320 fleet which is handy.

And the plane also feels quieter and has 15% less fuel consumption which makes for a more environmentally friendly flight and less lag, even on such a short sector.

 

ENTERTAINMENT & SERVICE

Let’s cut to the chase here… FREE WI-FI! Yes, you heard it correctly. This flight has free unlimited wi-fi enabled for the entire sector for as many devices as you like. And it’s quick too.

I streamed Spotify from my phone as well as browsed happily without any bandwidth pain. Downloading stuff would be pushing it, but that’s not the idea here. For a free service at 35,000 feet, I think its pretty damn good.

Pic: Matt Leedham

The seat-back screens are compact and sharp in resolution. There are plenty of movies and TV shows to binge on and great music and chat to listen to with the usual seat chat for those inclined. There’s also the neat ability to order food and wines from your seat without speaking to anyone. Nice.

Also… The entertainment unit has a USB C connector and a standard USB port which is a beautiful thing.

Pic: Matt Leedham

I was on a works ticket which included meals, with the food arriving around an hour after take off. I chose the cold smoked chicken couscous salad over the hot Cashmere Lamb with chickpeas and yoghurt, and it was a tasty little (emphasis on little) snack to fill in the gap before my arrival into Auckland.

Service throughout the flight was warm, professional and diligent with a young crew effectively taking care of everyone over to Auckland.

 

THE VERDICT

I really enjoyed this flight. The extra legroom was excellent, as was the free wi-fi – a fantastic added element and bonus and most definitely a game changer. Overall service was on point and who doesn’t want to fly in a new plane? Top marks from me.

 

THE DETAILS

Pic: Matt Leedham

  • Flight: NZ938
  • Aircraft: Airbus A321neo
  • Class: Economy (Seat 14F)
  • Flight time: Departs Gold Coast 1230, Journey two hours and forty minutes arriving at
  • Auckland Airport at 1730 local time (20 minutes ahead of schedule).
  • Frequency: Air New Zealand operates a daily service (NOTE: The A321neo is scheduled on Monday flights only)
  • Baggage: Checked baggage is chargeable on the ‘Seat and bag’, ‘the works’ and ‘the works deluxe’ fare types.
  • Loyalty: Air New Zealand Airpoints

More information: www.airnewzealand.com.au

Matt flew as a guest of Air New Zealand.

 

Have you flown on Air New Zealand’s A321neo yet?