An Unexpected(ly Good) Journey

The following is a guest post from my dad – a fellow travel and points aficionado! Dad and my mom recently got back from a trip to New Zealand, and have some great tips to share about getting there with Air New Zealand!

I wasn’t looking forward to traveling to the land of Hobbits and the Lord of Rings with Air New Zealand in an economy seat on a Boeing 777, especially because the Premium Economy “Space Seat” and Business products would be looking pretty good viewed from the back of the plane. But we were able to grab seats 34 J and K for an extra fee of $90 in both directions to and from Los Angeles, and these are definitely worth trying to book if you can.

This pair of seats is great if you are traveling with a companion, right at the front of the Economy cabins, with an exit door to one side and a galley wall across from the aisle. The exit door does not have a bump-out so leg room is unrestricted, though it can get a bit cold. We were able to stretch out which is a valuable benefit on an eleven or twelve hour flight. The seats are also very private because Economy pax are not supposed to pass through the curtain to the forward Premium Economy section, and we found that generally people did follow the rules. Large entertainment screens pull up from the side of the seat, a bit like some business seats, rather than being mounted in the seat backs.

However, a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Only the -300 series 777 offers a pair of seats with this much leg room. The -200 series does not.
  2. Air NZ sometimes are prone to changing equipment, and won’t notify you automatically if there’s a change. Keep an eye on your seat assignments right up to check in time (as we learned – see next line).
  3. On a shorter MEL-AKL leg of our trip, these seats turned out to be broken and we discovered at check in that we’d been moved to bulkhead seats (grrr). Thanks to some negotiating skills, we persuaded Air NZ to upgrade us to Premium Economy Space Seats, so a good outcome on this occasion.
  4. Overhead locker space is limited because of the exit door, so try to board as soon as possible; paid seats in Economy are considered as Priority Boarding but this is not marked on your boarding pass, but this gets you a more or less front of line pass.

All in all we found this to be a great way to enjoy a lot of extra leg room and cabin space for a fraction of what we would have paid to sit up front.