Having finished lunch in Sydney and quickly growing tired of dragging my bag with me, I decided to head to the airport a bit early. Air New Zealand doesn’t support online check-in on its international routes, so I was left to check-in at the airport to obtain a boarding pass. Rather unfortunately (and unknown to me when I was deciding to head to the airport), I couldn’t obtain a boarding pass until three hours before departure, leaving me with 30 minutes or so to kill waiting near the ticket desks.
Rather surprisingly for me, the Qantas employee staffing the Air New Zealand desk needed to see a printed itinerary showing that I had a ticket out of New Zealand. Given Air New Zealand was to fly me in and out of New Zealand, they were privy to both ticket numbers of my Aeroplan award and should have had this accessible to them (or so I would have believed).
After walking through the mall that is the Sydney Airport international terminal, I reached the two Star Alliance lounges, one run by Singapore Airlines and the other Air New Zealand. I chose to go to the Singapore lounge first. Upon entering, the desk clerk suggested that since I was flying on Air New Zealand, I go to their lounge and come back if I decided that the Singapore lounge “was nicer.” Having been to neither lounge, deciding which lounge would be nicer in advance would be difficult. As a business class passenger with Star Alliance Gold status by virtue of being a United 1K, I was directed to the empty business class lounge.
Besides two staff members who kept checking on the food and drink supply, I was the only person in the lounge.
The various crackers they had out initially were quickly substituted for a wider variety of offerings.
From the seats near the window, I had a rather nice view of a Thai A340 while views of other aircraft were obstructed by various jet bridges.
Eventually, I decided to leave to visit the Air New Zealand lounge.
Initially, the lounge was quite full as many of the passengers were waiting for the United flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles. Nonetheless, I was able to find a recliner near the windows overlooking the tarmac.
As a testament to the utter confusion that code shares can cause passengers, a group of travelers sitting next to me near the window began debating when their “Continental plane to Los Angeles” was going to show up.
As the boarding calls for the United 747’s were made, the crowd thinned out. I was quite appreciate that even while reasonably busy, the wireless internet remained speedy.
Air New Zealand 118
Sydney, Australia (SYD) – Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)
Wednesday, December 28st
Duration: 3 hours
Aircraft: Boeing 777-219ER (ZK-OKA)
Seat: 3A (Business Class)
Based on the scarce award availability on this route even right up to the flight, I expected the business class cabin to be reasonably full. I was very mistaken.
I was the only passenger on the left aisle. Three other passengers were seated on the right aisle. Most seats had a dedicated overhead bin, virtually assuring space for passengers in business class without resorting to placing bags in the various closets of the aircraft. One of the business class flight attendants greeted me, introduced herself by name, and offered a Auckland paper while offering a predeparture beverage. I took the orange juice.
Taxiing brought us past N197UA headed back to San Francisco having flown to Los Angeles and Melbourne since I left it.
Upon takeoff, it was time for the initial flight show.
The menu read as follows:
I had requested a vegetarian meal in advance.
Upon arrival, we had to wait a few minutes to deplane for our jetbridge to be brought up to the aircraft. Overall, customs was quick and painless (and didn’t require use of the express card handed out by the flight crew). The immigration officer asked me what I was doing in Sydney: (“Being a tourist” sufficed. The biosecurity officer asked me what sort of science I do: I started to offer an explanation, but he quickly passed on hearing it.