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Pre-departure services and the Global First Lounge

United Global First Los Angeles to Sydney


I’ve included a brief report on Air New Zealand business class because the plane I flew operates some key routes you might want to fly like Honolulu to Auckland and Shanghai to Auckland. Because getting to New Zealand in business class with United miles is tough, you might find yourself on one of those flights.

After taking off on New Year’s Eve, I landed well rested in Sydney on January 2nd. Because I was just a transiting passenger, I didn’t have to clear Australian immigration (or have a chance to use Global Entry to skip the queue.)

I did have to reclear security to get to the gates for my next flight to Auckland. After clearing security, I took the elevator to the Air New Zealand lounge to see what was available, but the agent said my boarding pass was not valid for entry or flying, and I had to return to the Transfer Desk just past security that I had seen and ignored my first time passing it.

Since I was flying Air New Zealand business class from Sydney to Auckland, I had access to the Air New Zealand lounge and returned to it.

The Air New Zealand Lounge in Sydney is far better than domestic airline lounges in the US (like the Admirals Club and United Club), but not as nice as most airlines’ First Class lounges.

There was an ample drink selection and three hot dishes–scrambled eggs, sausages, and beans–which were yummy.

After thirty minutes in the lounge, I headed to my flight to New Zealand.

Air New Zealand 102
Sydney (SYD) – Auckland (AKL)
Depart: 9:40 AM on Wednesday, January 2
Arrive: 2:40 PM on Wednesday, January 2
Duration: 3:00
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 3A (Business Class)

Air New Zealand operates the SYD-AKL route with several aircraft including 767s, 777s, and A320s. I was on a 767-300, which has 24 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. I chose a window seat.

The seats can recline into an “angled lie flat” position, and leg and foot rests can be controlled with seat side buttons.

In a sitting position, the seat is extremely comfortable. The seating area features ample leg room, about an extra foot compared to domestic first class. Even at 6’4″, I had a ton of space between my knees and the seat in front.

In a reclining position, the seat was comfortable for relaxing and watching a movie on the pop out TV. I didn’t attempt to sleep, since I had just slept quite a bit coming from Los Angeles. I don’t think the seat would be that great for sleeping because it is at a substantial angle to the ground. As you can imagine, a lie flat bed would be more comfortable for sleeping. But for a three hour flight, this is a very nice seat–certainly much nicer than domestic first class seats in the US.

Food, however, was another matter. The salmon appetizer was OK, and I always enjoy a bread basket. I selected garlic bread.

But this beef stew with ham salad was the worst food I’ve had on a plane. Two bites in I was finished. I assign myself quite a bit of blame–beef stew was a strange selection.

Service on the flight was friendly. A pre-departure drink was offered, my meal order was taken quickly, and the food was cleared promptly. I didn’t have any other requests, since I passed the short flight with one movie.

Overall Air New Zealand business class on a 767-300 is a comfortable product for relaxing. I would not want to book it to sleep if I had a flat bed option.

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