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Houston to Auckland in Premium Economy on Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9

Tue May 15, 2018 8:40 am

For all the pictures that go with this report, please click here.

A friend of mine recently flew from Houston to Auckland on the Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9. He always books Economy Class but this time he bid $280 for an upgrade to Premium Economy and actually got it. He was pretty delighted as it's a really long flight.

Anyway, I asked him if he would do a trip report for it as I've never flown with NZ before. After a month or two where he was moving and settling in to a new house, he wrote a report for me and sent over his pics. Here it is!

----- By Rinaz Ali -----

When you first step into Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy cabin on their new 787-9, you’re greeted with somewhat garish mauve/fuschia mood lighting, like you’ve wandered onto the set of a soft core porn movie. The mood lighting should explain the colour of my photos – it’s not the result of me being a moron and using the wrong filter or something.


NZ29 – Houston to Auckland (IAH-AKL)
22 February 2018
Boeing 787-9 – ZK-NZM
Seat: Premium Economy 27B
Departure: 20:00 Arrival: 05:55+2

On your seat, you’ll find a bottle of dihydrogen monoxide, a cotton blanket (none of that polyester crap here), a pillow that was almost full size and very fluffy, and headphones. The headphones are large and do a good job of cupping your ear holes and blocking much of the outside sound (read: screaming babies), though the sound quality itself is fairly tinny.


Thankfully, you can plug your own headphones directly into the 787’s audio jack without the need for an adapter. There was also the menu and a little amenity kit. I have to admit as this was a few months ago I don’t remember what was in the amentity kit, but let’s just assume it was socks, a toothbrush and eye mask. It usually is.

The seat itself is exceptionally comfortable, with oodles of leg room. Draped in black leather, it reclines half way and has a retractable footrest. I didn’t take more photos of the seat because I didn’t want to guy sitting next to me too think I was weird.


He was about 6’6″ and he was able to recline in ease, as was I. You may need an Engineering degree to figure out the mechanism to release the footrest, and thankfully I do, so I was able to help the clueless beanstalk next to me figure it out.

Did someone say entertainment? Yes, they have that, too. While essentially the same entertainment system as in economy, the touch screen is quite large – easily the biggest I’ve seen. New Zealand is culturally diverse, so in addition to mainstream TV and movies, there were Bollywood films, South Korean dramas, and of course The Hobbit, since New Zealand still can’t get over Lord of the Rings. I watched Disney/Pixar’s “Coco” and the colourful film looked bright and faithfully reproduced on the LCD screen. Also, I cried at the end of that movie. Damn you, Pixar, you did it again.

Under the screen is a USB jack so you can recharge any of your electronic devices without having to search blindly under your seat for a power outlet and being charged for sexual assault by the passenger next to you. Geez, Todd, man up. Yes you’re 6’6″, but you’re totally not my type.

Air New Zealand always has good food, and in Premium Economy, it was exceptional. To start was Mozarella and heirloom tomato with mango chilli and basil dressing. I recommend pairing it with a good New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. As I’m used to drinking my wine out of a box, I was quietly impressed with the wine selection.


As I am vegan, I had the slow cooked beef brisket with marscapone mashed potatoes, roasted baby turnip, carrots and green beans. This was delicious and none of the food ever had that “just microwaved” texture. I don’t know if they actually cook the food onboard or not, probably somebody better at writing reviews or eating can confirm this. I paired this with several bottles of Steinlager, mainly since I missed Australian/New Zealand beer living in the states for over five years.

After dinner, I watched a documentary about the Topp Twins, New Zealand’s answer to a question no one asked. Truly national treasures, I suggest you look them up on the interwebs. Combined with two Ambien and more Steinlager, this helped to knock me out for the remainder of the flight.

I had a pleasurable fifteen or so hours before breakfast was served. I went with the Continental breakfast because I’m Jewish. The tea comes in an actual, full-sized mug along with fruit, cereal and yoghurt. Not long after breakfast was served, we landed at the crack of dawn in the sprawling, bustling metropolis that is Auckland.

All in all, the cabin crew were attentive and pleasant, food was superb and you could order unlimited drinks from the comfort of your screen without having to talk to anybody – perfect for introverts and shut ins. I would highly recommend the Premium Economy to everyone, especially since I flew back on Economy and the seats are some of the narrowest I’ve experienced.

I give it five Steinlager bottles out of five. Remember please click here for the other pictures in the report. If you have any comments, please leave them below.
I do enjoy a spot of flying, especially when it's not in economy!
Posts: 1798
Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 12:13 am

Re: Houston to Auckland in Premium Economy on Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9

Mon May 21, 2018 3:36 pm

I did the same flight last year, but 'slummed it' in economy on the 777. Wish I knew that you could put in a bid for PE, but the flight was booked for me at short notice as I broke my wrist in Mexico!

And have to agree the IFE was pretty good, with a decent selection. Don't know if it was due to being a night flight, but it was a much better flight than the QF MEL-LAX flight on the way there, great service & I managed to get around 5 hours sleep. I actually felt reasonably fresh getting into AKL at dawn, not bad considering that I'd spent the afternoon flying up from Cancun, and having to clear CPB before getting on the flight to AKL. If I was going back to that part of the world, would take that flight again, instead of transiting LAX....
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