Airports, Airlines, Aviation

The Hobbit and Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

Last month, several family members flew Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 from Los Angeles to London and back (NZ1). We’ve been waiting for the opportune time to review their flight, as well as to debut the Hobbit safety video on the tripchi blog. Now that it’s after Christmas, and many of our readers are finally thinking about what movies to see between now and the year-end, we figured that now is the perfect time to feature this NZ flight and our Lord of the Rings/Hobbit video (live footage from the flight itself).

Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Background

This London trip was a special one for my mother and grandfather – not only was it a family bonding adventure, but it will also probably be the last time my grandfather (now 88 years old) makes it to one of his favorite cities on Earth (London) to see one of his favorite shows on Earth (Miss Saigon). In case I haven’t mentioned him before, my grandfather, Marvin Baker Schaffer, is an intrepid world traveler and entrepreneur – check out his profile here. Together, we (including my Aunt Leslie) have explored several continents together (most recently Africa and Northern Spain).

But this Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 was a journey not destined for me, but rather for my mother Jody. Remember, I interviewed my parents a Jody and John a few months ago around the private flight they took from Van Nuys Airport to Sonoma Valley, California.

My mother and grandfather chose this particular flight route because it was actually the cheapest available flight for these dates approximately 3 weeks in advance. They booked on Sept 22, through the Air New Zealand website – it was a better deal, as is often the case, booking direct through the airline’s website than through a Online Travel Agency like Orbitz (although Orbitz’s new RewardBucks program often levels the playing field).

There was also no charge for the first checked bag – a courtesy that most airlines still grant for international flights. The total was $2,163.40 for 2 tickets – $1,468 for the base fare plus $495.40 for tax, mostly due to flying in to expensive Heathrow (LHR).

Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Fare
Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Fare

They also each upgraded for a preferred seat, $50 each way per person ($100 total per person). This came out to $1,081.70, including the premium economy upgrades for both people round-trip.

Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Details

Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
  • Airline: Air New Zealand – Air New Zealand’s IATA code is NZ
  • Departure Gate: B??
  • Arrival Gate: Terminal 2, 43
  • Scheduled:3:59 PM PST
  • Actual Flight time: 4:15 PM PST
  • Boarding time: Not sure
  • Scheduled Arrival Time:10:30 AM GMT
  • Actual Arrival Time: 9:56 AM GMT
  • Travel Time: 9h 40m
  • Altitude: Filed at 33,000 feet
  • Baggage Claim: Not sure
  • Aircraft type:Boeing 777-300 (twin-jet)
  • Distance traveled: Direct: 5,449 sm; Planned: 5,830 sm; Flown: 5,988 sm;
  • Class: Premium Economy (K)
  • Baggage cost: 1 checked bag per person free
  • Seat: 36H and 36G (both aisle seats)
  • Upgrade: Paid $100 per person round-trip for Premium Economy upgrade.
  • Load factor: Not sure. Anyone have a good resource for Load Factors?
  • Average one-way fare: Since Farecast was bought by Bing, there is not longer a public-facing Farecast offering under the Bing brand. Other website that I would typically use ( also didn’t cover US Domestic to International routes. Does anyone have a tip on which tool to use to find the average historical fare over a given year for an international route? 
Flight Route - Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
Flight Route – Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

The Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Onboard Experience

My mother reported that the plane was a 777 with a new-looking, comfortable, clean, and visually appealing purple interior. Clearly my mother and grandfather boarding first since the plane is still virtually empty in the below cabin photo – however, my mom also mentioned that the flight probably only had a load factor around 80%.

The Cabin - Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
The Cabin – Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

Even the flight attendants were dressed in purple, reminding me of Virgin America – with modern and fashionable purple and black skirts.

Purple Flight Attendants on Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
Purple Flight Attendants on Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

Apparently there were SkyCouch available that a fellow passenger booked – promptly after take-off he sprawled out across three seats after converting it from seats into a bed configuration.

SkyCouch - Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
SkyCouch – Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

Also available was a very elegant in-flight entertainment system that was easy to navigate with a lot of options to keep oneself occupied and happy throughout the flight.

In-Flight Entertainment on Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
In-Flight Entertainment on Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

The in-flight entertainment also included plenty of chargers for powering your smartphones and electronics. You can see my mom’s iPhone plugged in to the USB charger inline.

In-Flight Entertainment - Air New Zealand Flight NZ2
In-Flight Entertainment – Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

The food served on the Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 was also apparently quite good. The dinner for the night was a chicken with vegetables and a pasta salad.

Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Food
Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Food

Free wine and beer as usual on an international flight, with an ice cream sundae cart dessert – equivalent to what a US airline would serve in business class.

Final thoughts on Air New Zealand Flight NZ2

The highlight for me for Air New Zealand Flight NZ2, though (even though it probably wasn’t the highlight for the members of my family actually traveling), was the new “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” inspired in-flight safety video.

And, I also wanted to commend Air New Zealand on its awesome route map on the website. Most airline websites do a bad job showing what routes are actually available from a specific origin – take a look at this review on why Southwest International routes are impossible to find. Air New Zealand does a very good job live-filtering, based on your selections, to get the actual routes flown from a specific origin or destination based on your exact selection. Well done!

Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Route Map
Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 Route Map

For the Online Travel booking awesomeness, and well as the swanky, prompt, clean, and scrumptious in-flight experience – with the Lord of the Rings themed safety video of course as icing on the cake –

we give Air New Zealand Flight NZ2 an A!


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