Sebis photo blog

Sebis photo blog


Tuesday 10 November 2009

A few people asked me lately which airline (and route) I would choose to go from Europe to New Zealand.

Well, to be honest I don’t know… :) But I can try to outline my experiences for the airlines/routes I’ve flown so far – which are only Lufthansa, Air New Zealand and Qantas.

Generally you can say:
You’ve got to survive the long distance somehow, so try to make the best of it. Half empty (or half full? ;-) ) planes are always more comfortable than fully (or over-) booked planes – but you surely would be one lucky bastard if you catch an empty flight (or you’ve got way too much money, if you book all available seats…. ;-) )

East or west bound?
There are many ways to fly from Europe to New Zealand. Since the maximum distance of current airplanes is only about half the distance you have to cover, you will need to have at least a refuel stop.
Most popular routes are probably:

  • London/LHR via Los Angeles/LAX or Hongkong/HKG to Auckland/AKL
  • Frankfurt/FRA via San Francisco/SFO or Vancouver/YVR to Auckland/AKL
  • Frankfurt/FRA via Singapore/SIN or Dubai/DXB to Auckland/AKL
  • Frankfurt/FRA via Singapore/SIN & Sydney/SYD to New Zealand

In the end you have to get half around the world – no matter what.

Flights via US

  • Pro: You will have more luggage (2 bags @23kg per person instead of 1 bag @23kg). One flight segment via the US will be enough to get the extra bag. Don’t need to fly both ways via the US.
  • Contra: The US don’t offer a “transit” state for passengers just stopping over. That means you HAVE to pass through US immigration and you have to register prior to boarding the flight towards the US. (register here: )

Other criteria

  • If you have a stop over, try to make it as short as possible (2 hours) OR at least 8-9 hours (depending on the city you’re stopping over)! That way you can go and do some sight seeing!
  • Do you prefer longer flight segments and less stops (and sleep all the time) or shorter flights with one or two more stops to stretch your legs?

As previously mentioned, I’ve been using Air New Zealand (NZ), Lufthansa (LH) & Qantas (QF) for my trips between Europe and New Zealand. Friends of mine will use Etihad in March, so it will be interesting to hear about their experience. Looking at their website, the economy class seems to be really comfy!

I guess I’m still preferring Air New Zealand.
The crew is friendly and obliging, but still discrete and won’t disturb you if you’re sleeping. The fleet consists of modern, quiet and fuel efficient airplanes.
Seat reservations could be made well in advance for my flights, so I had excellent exit seats and heaps of leg room. The seat maps are available on their website.
As far as I know, it need to be an NZ ticket though. LH tickets with NZ codeshare flights won’t allow you to pick your seats.

I’ve had different experiences. While LH economy class is kind of famous for being crap, their newer planes seem to offer slightly more room. Still not as much as other airlines do, though.
On our way from San Francisco to Munich we had a brand-new Airbus, while our flight from Frankfurt to San Francisco was with an old, rattly, shaky 747 without an on seat entertainment system. Bad luck? Maybe, but you won’t have something like that with most other airline. They just don’t have planes that old!

Unlike on NZ flights, you can’t use the entertainment system during taxi, take off and landing on QF flights. That really sucks, if they shut down the system 30-40 minutes before landing and you have 20 minutes of movie to watch… On NZ flights you can already start watching before take off. I liked that. :) (One exception to that one: if you sit in a seat without a seat in front of you, your screen is stowed in your arm rest – and needs to be put away for take off and landing.)

It seems to be all the same microwaved food – more or less… Not too bad, but certainly no gourmet meal. My personal order: 1. NZ, 2. QF, 3. LH.

Frequent flyer programmes
Qantas seems to give best value here. For a one way flight I got 12.000 miles.
Lufthansa gave me 3.000 for the same distance!!
In the end, it doesn’t really matter, if you’re not flying much anyway I guess…

2 comments for 'Airlines'

    November 28, 2009 | 02:12

    Lufthansa announced that they will be charging 40 EUR in economy for the second bag between Europe and North America starting 1.1.2010.

    January 10, 2010 | 02:39

    I’m gonna collect a few useful but random links here:

    Best to sign up for the airline newsletters to get promotions and sales.

    Airlines and travel sites/centers:

    Ranking of Airlines ( – in German),1518,617623,00.html

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