Adelaide Sydney Auckland LAN A340 Flat Bed
This would be the start of an eight flight, week long New Zealand trip where I planned to visit the big three cities, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Although the best bits of NZ are arguably outside the cities, this would be a start for me. My flight there was first a domestic flight with Qantas to Sydney as usual followed by flying on their partner, LAN Chile on a tag flight between Sydney and Auckland. I would be taking advantage of cheap business class fares on the LAN flight which features flat beds with well over a metre of legroom. It would be great to travel like this all the time!
First thing to Sydney
It was an early start to make the connection to Sydney, with the first flight out. Fortunately my best friend was able to join me for breakfast in the Adelaide Qantas Club. Although I would have been able to enter with the business class ticket, this would be the first trip I would be flying with gold status with the airline which means complementary lounge access! This was perfect timing as the trip would feature domestic flights on Jetstar New Zealand which have replaced Qantas however there were still Qantas Club lounges in all three cities, although they would be shortly closed down.
The flight to Sydney I have taken too many times before. Having gold status now it was now much easier to get sat in the front row of economy, row 4. This row is preferred by most frequent QF travellers as it offers ample legroom and quick boarding/departing. It was a fairly full flight however so the middle seat was not empty. Lucky or unlucky, depending on your perspective, I was sat next to one of my geology professors from last year who owns/manages some mining companies and has a mineral named after him – I’ll leave those who know to guess. We talked a bit, he was off to a brief TV appearance on morning news before off to Perth, no doubt for business commitments. When discussing studies he seemed to give me a bit more credit after I mentioned I was also majoring in philosophy, which he strongly believed people should do. It made me appreciate even more in striving for a traditional university education which few even get close to today.
Back to the flight. Breakfast was served. Simple for some, but many of us are quite happy with the economy class breakfasts Qantas serve when many airlines around the world give no more than a snack or no free catering at all!
After arrival it was straight to the international transfer desk for the ride across the tarmac to the international terminal. Unfortunately it was a bit of a wait and everyone was in the morning rush mode.
Sydney to Auckland on LAN A340-300 business class
Getting to the international terminal so late and having to clear security and immigration left little to no time for any lounge. I would have liked to have at least walked into the international business class lounge but the flight was already boarding at this stage.
Weird to say, but this was my first time aboard a four engine plane as I have not yet been on a 747. Airbus A340s are commonly used on very long range routes. The LAN business class cabin has huge amounts of space. My best comparison I’ve seen is the Qantas A330 business cabin with SkyBeds. This cabin felt far more open, with such a small number of seats filling the cabin. Seats are arranged in three pairs across giving good privacy if you have the adjacent seat vacant. Fully flat beds extend out while there is still room to walk around them. The cabin has a lovely mahogany wood grain finish. Although it’s a bit heavy the spaciousness of the cabin prevents it from being overpowering.
Since it was a late morning departure limited catering was made available. I was aware it would just be a snack and no menu choices. They served a tray containing a brunch of sorts. Croissant, a sandwich and a piece of cake. The food all quite tasty and nice to eat of proper plates with metal cutlery. There was also a range of drinks available but I kept it simple, still tired from the early morning start.
The cabin was otherwise half-occupied, probably picking up passengers in Auckland for the long flight to Santiago. I checked out the bathroom but it was quite similar to those on my domestic flights. I assume personal amenity kits are handed out on the longer sector. These short tag flights miss out on much of the soft-service but you still get to appreciate the superior long haul hard-product.
What is a little unusual, I thought, was the entertainment system. For the front row the screens are attached up on the bulkhead, however they have a privacy filter so others can’t see what you’re watching nor disturbed if you’re trying to sleep. The unusual bit was the system was capable of picture in picture (PiP), one of those features you’d seek on a high end television of yesteryear. Being able to watch something with the moving flight map in the corner is sort of cool but probably not too useful other than the novelty.
With a couple more hours of flight time I decided to utilise the flat bed. Seat controls are quite extensive, there is also a USB and ethernet port on the seat design, which I gather are unused. Just hitting the sleep option converts the seat into a quite long and very comfortable flat bed to sleep.
Maybe it’s the thought of laying down while flying but it was super comfortable. I had a blanket and settled in and caught up on the sleep I missed waking up for the 6 AM departure from Adelaide. I arrived into Auckland feeling quite refreshed!