Flightcheck: Palmerston North to Auckland on Air New Zealand NZ5118 (NZ Herald)

Originally published in NZ Herald Travel

Tim McCready flies Air NZ’s flight NZ5118 from Palmerston North to Auckland

The plane: One of Air New Zealand’s 21 ATR 72-600s. This one was three years old.

Class: This is New Zealand. Just the one.

Boarding: Quick and painless. Skipping security on these regional flights is a real treat. I was travelling with a colleague from Singapore who was thoroughly enamoured that we can arrive at the airport minutes before boarding and walk straight on to the plane.

My seat: 1D — a terrible choice. These planes board and disembark from the back, so I was last off. The one advantage that came with being up front was the unlimited leg room.

The price: $523 (return, travelling with a flexidate fare).

How full: The plane was reasonably full, but I was the only one who made the front-row seating error. I had both sides of the emergency exit row to myself, and was well prepared with the responsibility that entailed — but thankfully I wasn’t called on.

Food and drink: It’s kept pretty simple on these flights. I was given the choice of tea, coffee or water, and of course, a Cookie Time Cookie — a choice of chocolate chip or gingernut. Those iconic boiled lollies made an appearance just before descent.

Service: The service was great. There are no screens on these planes, so safety instructions were given manually — a bit of a treat these days. Sitting right up the front by myself meant I had some great banter with the flight attendant during take-off and landing (and while patiently waiting for every other person to leave the plane).

The flight: It was a perfect day for flying. The skies were calm, and with only scattered cloud across the North Island I spent a lot of time gazing out of the window.

Flight time: We took off 12 minutes late. As we were nearing Auckland the pilot cautioned us that we had been given a convoluted descent by air traffic control and could be heavily delayed … but thankfully this was resolved. We made up time during the flight and touched down right on schedule — a relatively short flight of 54 minutes.

The bottom line: A very comfortable journey up the North Island.

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