As someone who has the opportunity to fly a lot of different airlines’ business class service, I see a lot of the same things, done only slightly differently. After all, how many variations can you have on fine dining and lie-flat seats? Air New Zealand is breaking that mold with friendly, attentive service, seats that are converted into real beds, not just flat seats and a curated menu highlighting the best food and wine in the world. The airline is also becoming the best choice for the popular LAX=LHR route, with a daily, direct flight between Los Angeles and London. The flight, actually a continuation of a flight originating in New Zealand, offers a stylish and comfortable alternative to the traditional transatlantic options. Here’s my review of their Los Angeles to London Heathrow flight in what the airline calls its Business Premier service.
On the ground
A dedicated Business Premier check-in section at LAX meant no waiting. Business Premier travelers get an expedited line for security screening and the whole process was rather painless. In Los Angeles, Air New Zealand premium travelers use the newly refurbished Star Alliance Lounge, which is large and quite comfortable. It’s also directly above the international terminal’s new shopping area and close to the gates as well. On arrival in London, Business Premier flyers get a Fast Track pass for quick immigration processing. In London, travelers use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 2 or the United Club Lounge, also in Terminal 2.
In the air
The inflight service is extremely friendly, reflecting the Kiwi Kia Ora (A traditional Maori greeting) spirit. They really create a fun environment, starting with funny safety videos, some featuring characters from The Hobbit films and others starring an always-hilarious Betty White. Business Premier service is personal and friendly with a dedicated crew who all seem to really love what they’re doing. I’ve also flown in their Premium Economy cabin and found the same dedicated, friendly, personal service.
More that a seat that reclines into a bed, the Air New Zealand cabin crew transform the comfortable leather seat into an actual bed. The 22-inch wide, 6-foot, 7.5 inch long seat is first flipped over, then a wonderfully comfortable memory foam-type mattress is placed over the seat. A plush duvet, bedding and full-size pillows are added, creating a very comfortable, flat bed. The 1-2-1 seating (on the 777-300 I flew) offers real privacy. Here’s a video tour of my seat.
The seats feature a 12.1 inch digital video display, offering one of the widest ranges of inflight entertainment, especially classic films, I’ve experienced. Awesome choices like the original Oceans 11 and The Hustler were offered, along with Casablanca, The French Connection and even Deliverance. Active noise-cancelling headphones are provided and work quite well.
Wining and dining
Air New Zealand’s Business Premier shines here are well, with a menu coordinated by Kiwi chef Peter Gordon. Dinner was some of the best food I’ve had on a plane, highlighting New Zealand and British flavors, dishes and products. To open, I went with the shaved prosciutto with fresh medjool dates, feta cheese crumble and red sorrel salad, in a balsamic dressing. It was so good, I had to have a second portion. The other choice was smoked, beetroot cured salmon. It’s often hard to do fresh bread well on a plane, but the San Francisco sourdough and garlic bread were both quite awesome.
For my main, I had the braised lamb with wild mushroom ragu, wilted spinach and a sage polenta. Shaved Parmesan was added for an extra bonus. Dessert was an Eton mess, which I’ve since researched the history of, served traditionally with strawberry sauce and crushed meringues. Don’t tell anyone, but I also had the warm treacle tart, service with authentic clotted cream. As a special treat, the desserts were followed by box of Crosstown Doughnuts offered by the cabin crew, which were fresh and amazing. This is a London specialty, the bakery has a few locations around the city, each with lines around the block.
Rachel Zoe Studios London Look Book
As I’ve written about, this special guide is included as an amenity for Business Premier flyers. The London Look Book is an insider’s guide to London’s best fashion destinations. The guide, curated by stylists Jill Lincoln and Jordan Johnson of Rachel Zoe Studios, alerts London visitors to the latest and hottest fashion destinations in the city. This includes not only stores and shopping recommendations but also restaurants and other essential info for stylish visitors. The London Look Book is available online and in printed form on the LAX-LON flights.
Follow luxury travel blogger Freddy Sherman on Twitter: @luxuryfred
Air transportation provided by Air New Zealand