Putting Air New Zealand domestic economy to the test

Air New Zealand Economy Class Review (domestic) – Christchurch to Auckland

Flight number:NZ516
Airline:Air New Zealand
Route:Christchurch to Auckland
Flight duration:1 hour 20 minutes
Cabin:Economy class
FrequencyMultiple flights per day

Air New Zealand plies the Christchurch – Auckland route with its workhorse, all-economy cabin A320 aircraft. I recently put this flight to the test. Read on for my verdict.

Booking my Air New Zealand economy class flight

I booked my Air New Zealand economy flight directly via the Air NZ website as the first leg of a trans-Tasman flight in business class. Air NZ doesn’t operate a domestic business class cabin, so this first leg was booked as a full economy class ticket.

Air New Zealand economy class check-in and Lounge

With a red-eye flight time of 6 am, it’s straight out of the taxi, and into the terminal, where the bright Air New Zealand self-check-in kiosks await me. As a first-timer, the process is very easy (note that you can also check-in online from 24 hours before your flight).

I soon have my ticket in hand and am on my way through security.

air new zealand economy review check-in christchurch airport

I’m fortunate that Air New Zealand Gold membership unlocks access to domestic Koru Lounges, and I’m looking forward to checking out the Christchurch Lounge where I plan to sample my first coffee of the day.

The Koru Lounge is located a short walk past security and very close to Gate 16, where my flight departs. I arrive just as the Lounge is opening for the day and am pleasantly surprised by the stylish space on offer. After a well-made barista coffee, a hot breakfast, and a touch of plane spotting, it’s time to head to the gate.

air new zealand economy class review koru lounge christchurch airport

You can read my full Air NZ Christchurch Koru Lounge review here.

Air New Zealand economy class cabin

Around 20 minutes before departure, boarding is called. As an Air New Zealand Gold member, I’m invited to board first. As I move through the gate, I spot our Air NZ A320 aircraft sitting outside in the pre-dawn, its black and white livery hard to miss.

air new zealand economy review boarding gate 16

Onboard, I’m welcomed by the friendly Air New Zealand cabin crew and shown to my seat. The Air New Zealand domestic A320 sports 29 rows with 171 seats in total, with a single aisle down the middle of the aircraft.

air new zealand economy class review a320 cabin

Air New Zealand economy class seat

Air NZ’s domestic economy class seats are arranged in a 3-3 configuration and upholstered in a soft and surprisingly stylish black leather. The pitch of each seat varies – it is between 30 – 33 inches (76 – 84cm).

air new zealand economy class review side shot seat row a320
air new zealand economy class review a320 seat row up close

Each seat features retractable armrests. There’s a drop-down tray table that pulls out from the seatback in front and a seat pocket.

The seat pocket contains the obligatory safety card, along with the Air New Zealand Kia Ora magazine which I enjoy flicking through during the flight.

air new zealand economy class review safety card and kia ora inflight magazine

Air New Zealand domestic economy class service

Our flight is a short one, at just 1 hour 20 minutes. However, the Air New Zealand crew move through the cabin quickly to offer passengers complimentary coffee, tea, juice or water.

No meal is offered on domestic economy class services within New Zealand. However, there’s a choice between a banana muffin or a choc chip cookie. An after-snack Air NZ branded lolly is offered just before we begin our descent.

Air New Zealand domestic economy class entertainment

Sadly, this Air New Zealand A320 doesn’t sport seatback entertainment. Rather, it features drop-down entertainment screens. After everyone is treated to Air NZ’s ‘Summer of Safety’ video, the entertainment consists of random quiz questions – a novel approach.

There’s also no onboard WiFi, but with a flight time of just over one hour, I’m happy to gaze out the window and flick through a magazine.

Air New Zealand economy class – the verdict

Air New Zealand domestic economy class delivers exactly what you’d expect – an efficient, friendly and no-frills service that will get you from point A to B with a minimum of fuss.

And with elite status, you can unlock additional perks such as lounge access, advance seat selection and priority boarding, which can offer an additional layer of comfort for your journey.

To discover more about other Air New Zealand cabins, check out our Air New Zealand business class review here and premium economy cabin review here.

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