Air New Zealand operates Tasmania’s only international flight, with three weekly services between Hobart and Auckland each Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. The Kiwi flag carrier has deployed their Airbus A320neo/A321neo jets to the Apple Isle, which feature an all Economy Class layout.
For my first international flight departing directly from my hometown, and indeed my first flight with Air New Zealand, I opted for the all-inclusive “worksdeluxe” product. It’s a Euro-Business concept, where you’ll have all items of service included plus a guaranteed empty middle seat. Although, unlike European carriers, Air New Zealand doesn’t pretend worksdeluxe is some form of Business Class. Here’s what I thought.
In this post:
How I Booked This Flight
Air New Zealand offers one of my least favourite frequent flyer programs of all time. That’s because Airpoints redemptions are tied directly to the cash fare for a specific flight. While this does make things extremely simple for the regular traveller, for most points nerds it’s difficult to extract any real value from the Airpoints loyalty program.
My chosen flight cost AU$497 for a Works Deluxe ticket, or 360 Airpoints Dollars plus A$136 in taxes. As I don’t particularly care about Airpoints, I chose the latter.
Air New Zealand’s Trans-Tasman Fares
Trans-Tasman flyers can select one of four “Seats to Suit” fares in Economy class, allowing you to choose the baggage allowance, comfort features and extras that you need. All fares include one carry-on bag, inflight entertainment (excluding movies) plus a choice of tea, coffee and water. From there, you can select;
- seat is Perfect for travelling light with take one 7kg carry-on bag
- seat+bag offers more than just carry-on, with one 23kg checked bag
- theworks is an all-inclusive experience, adding movies plus food and beverage
- worksdeluxe is as good as it gets with a neighbour free guarantee, 2 checked bags plus premium check-in, boarding and baggage
Departing Hobart International Airport
The excitement was tangible departing Hobart, my home airport, on the only international passenger service offered from the Apple Isle. Although the subsidised service was introduced a few years ago, flights were suspended when the world decided to have a collective breakdown. Since then, I have been keen to put both Air New Zealand and Hobart Airport to the test.
With the knowledge that Hobart Airport isn’t eager to be passenger-friendly, as normal I arrived a little tight on time. As I typically depart on domestic flights, I normally check-in online to avoid spending longer than required in my hometown’s embarrassment of a capital airport. To be fair, Hobart Airport does make an attempt to offer a pleasant experience, but those who run the show never seem to get it right. I don’t know about you, but when I visit an airport I’m more concerned with finding a comfortable seat, avoiding crowds and departing on time. While building community gardens and spiritual grass-burning ceremonies (that shut the airport due to visibility concerns) are important, they don’t deserve to be run by a team that can’t even build a carpark.
Anyway, I digress.
It was a quick and efficient check-in process, as you would expect from Air New Zealand. Both customer service staff, Richard and Demi, offered an especially enthusiastic welcome.
Security screening was tedious, with just two lanes bringing Hobart to maximum capacity. I was then airside within the domestic terminal, with further screening required to access the International departure gate. From there, departure boards invite international passengers to “eat, shop and relax” – I’m assuming that’s all possible at one of the two vending machines on offer. Because other than that, there’s nothing else within the international shoebox. There is however enough seating for roughly half the plane, with remaining passengers enjoying the high life and “relaxing” with their chips and Diet Coke on the terminal floor.
Air New Zealand A320neo Cabin
Air New Zealand currently operates between Hobart and Auckland three times weekly using Airbus A320neo/A321neo aircraft. The Kiwi Carrier has fitted their Airbus narrowbody jets with an all-economy layout, with space for 165 passengers on the smaller variant. Worksdeluxe seats can be found in rows 1 to 3 while extra legroom is available until rows 6 or 9, depending on which side of the aircraft you select.
Air New Zealand has clearly gone the extra mile to make their A320neo a nice place to be. One of my favourite things about this new aircraft is the stylish leather upholstered seats. Combined with Airspace Cabin lighting, these black seats certainly give the entire cabin a trendy feeling.
The slimline and curved design combination means you sink further into the seatback, creating up to 7% more usable space. This design makes for a very comfortable ride as the seat will essentially hug you to avoid strain on your lower back. All up, it’s the best Economy Class seat I have flown by a long way.
I only have two issues with this seat. The first is the feeble armrests, which are not nearly as wide or long as you’d expect. Because of this, the recline function is quite different. I had initially thought there was no recline until I noticed the silver circular lever at the base of the seat.
My second gripe is the ridiculously tight seat pocket, which barely fits the safety card and over-ear headphones that are found waiting for worksdeluxe passengers and elite Airpoints members. Any personal items beyond this are difficult to ram into such a tiny opening.
There is a sharp IFE screen on the back of each seat, which displays the name of Airpoints members during boarding. As you’d expect, there’s also a full-size tray table.
Best Seats On The Air New Zealand A320neo
Air New Zealand’s latest generation Airbus jets feature an interesting layout. As in AeroLopa’s seat map below, rows are staggered with legroom decreasing towards the rear of the aircraft.
I chose row two, as row one has solid armrests that can’t be raised, and I like to stow my small bag under the seat in front. I enjoyed 32.7 inches of pitch but had I selected the last row, I’d be crammed in with just 28.7 inches between seats.
It’s also worth noting that the middle seats on Air New Zealand NEO’s are 2cm wider than their window and aisle counterparts.
Air New Zealand Food & Beverage
A useful feature that more airlines seem to be introducing is passenger food and drink orders via the seatback screen. The system is set up to take card payments, or you can redeem Airpoints directly via the system. An initial drinks service was offered shortly after the seatbelt sign came off, with the crew proactively offering two drinks served to the brim.
Meals were served within the hour, which felt slow considering I was in row two, although I was quite hungry! I selected the chicken cacciatore, which came served with green beans and mash, plus a small raspberry slice. I accompanied this with a New Zealand sparkling, although as the bottle was not on display, I can’t tell you more. Meals are pre-packaged and served on a tray, with wooden cutlery and plastic cups. The meal was delightful, although quite small for a 3.5-hour flight.
Up until service was complete the crew were fantastic, but following rubbish collection, I would have appreciated a more attentive approach. Until landing, drinks were served on call.
Air New Zealand Inflight Entertainment
As a worksdeluxe customer, I had access to complimentary movies, TV shows, music and games via the seatback IFE screen. After boarding, Airpoints members can enter their date of birth to access and spend their balance on inflight food and drink.
While there was no AC power onboard, Air New Zealand has fitted USB-A and USB-C sockets below each IFE screen, which can be used to charge your devices.
There was also free inflight wifi for all passengers, a fantastic added bonus. I found it fast enough for social media, emails and even video streaming although would still recommend keeping some entertainment downloaded as inflight wifi can be unreliable. Although in saying that, my device stayed connected for the entire journey, most of which is over the Tasman Sea, something which sadly can’t be said for domestic flights in Australia.
Summing Up: Is worksdeluxe Worth The Cost?
We land in Auckland just 3 hours and 20 minutes after taking to the skies, leaving me to consider the value of the ticket I have purchased. Firstly, this service is a big deal for Hobart. It’s just a short hop across the ditch, rather than flying north to Melbourne or Sydney and then back in the direction I’ve just travelled from.
The decision to pay extra for worksdeluxe is personal and depends on how much you value onboard comfort. For compassion’s sake, when I booked this flight I paid an extra $180 on top of the cheapest fare type. For that premium, I received priority check-in, boarding and baggage collection, two checked bags, unlimited inflight entertainment, food and beverage and of course a neighbour-free seat guarantee.
Air New Zealand has a respectable worldwide reputation, and for good reason too. Although the meal was boilerplate, every other aspect of my flight was superb. The crew were cheerful, the inflight entertainment was excellent and the seat was superb. As such, I would happily select Air New Zealand worksdeluxe when next I fly.