So, in recent weeks we have seen a lot of negatives about overbooking on airlines, including a now infamous United Airlines saga which has been blown out of proportion.
ICYMI – an elderly gentleman was dragged off a United Airlines flight earlier this month after he refused to leave his seat, which he had been checked in on to make way for United Airlines employees.
I stand by the people wishing to boycott United Airlines, as I believe that any company should put their customers first before profit.
So today I wanted to talk about this subject of being overbooked on a flight, and the positives I’ve had being on an overbooked flight – getting upgraded to a premium class.
Back in 2014, I headed to New Zealand for Lady Crusader Lunch which was a lunch put on by the Crusaders Rugby Team for women who support the side to come along and visit, I probably was the furthest travelled out of the group, coming from Brisbane (and I hadn’t begun my frequent visits to Christchurch – yet) who was a bit too keen to meet Richie McCaw and had the fortunate pleasure of having Andy Ellis, Israel Dagg and Colin Slade wait on my tables, and this is how I got to know Andy quite well, and I hope to see him play in Japan in October 2017.
After the lunch, I headed off for a short break in the Deep South of New Zealand, exploring Queenstown and Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park before I headed back to Australia.
This was a break I could switch off from a lot of my troubles, as I had been battling with depression for quite some time leading up to this trip, to the point I was taking Prozac at the time.
Anyway, enough of that and back to the story of being on an overbooked flight.
I was flying back from Christchurch to Brisbane with Air New Zealand and I booked on the Works Deluxe package, however it meant that I had to fly via Auckland, which is no big deal as it meant flying on NZ135, which flies on a Boeing 777-300, rather than an Airbus A320.
This meant that being in Works Deluxe on NZ135, you flew in the now defunct premium economy seat, had lounge access, priority boarding and 30kgs of luggage.
So, I checked in at Christchurch airport, with no issues and flew up to Auckland, which takes about an hour. At the time, I didn’t register that the NRL Auckland Nines had played in Auckland the day before and did not think that this could be a full flight from Auckland to Brisbane.
My only priority was getting to the international terminal and making sure I made my flight as I was the last one off my flight from Christchurch and there was a delay going through immigration. I was lucky I had 45 minutes to spare when I got to the other side of immigration and well since one of the perks of flying Works Deluxe was lounge access, I went up there – and this is when it got more interesting.
I then made to the Koru Lounge (the Air New Zealand flagship lounge) and when entering, you required your boarding pass to fly to Brisbane to enter.
When it came back up as red, I was confused, and explained to the lady at the desk that I was on the Works Deluxe package. She then took my ticket, looked on her computer and gave me the magical words that any passenger has been waiting to hear their whole life,
“Your flight is overbooked; you have been given a complimentary upgrade our Business Class”
I had to ask her to repeat what she said, just in case I wasn’t dreaming.
Yes, I had been bumped up to business class.
Yes – I may have done my happy dance a little too publicly.
She then gave me a new boarding pass and I went on my rather merry way, to the lounge bar! Time to celebrate!
I managed to get a Steinlager Pure in before it was time to board, but in reality, I was waiting for my name to be called to go back to the desk and for them to say, “I’m sorry we made a mistake,” thankfully that didn’t happen.
I left after my one beer and heading down to the boarding gate, and it was then you realise that it was a full flight with majority of the punters and even competing teams from the Auckland Nines were on this flight as well, and here is moi, wearing high tops, jeans and a rugby top she got from playing in a Touch 7s comp the year prior, about to be seated in business class. My grin however was such a dead giveaway, I looked like a cat just swallowed a pigeon.
When it was time to board, those with business class or Works Deluxe seats were boarded after those with disabilities and small children so I went to get boarded, and my ticket scanned red again, and I thought here was when they were going to say, “Sorry we made a mistake,” but no they reissued me with another ticket, and I was still in business class.
When I got to the plane, the head FA took me to my seat, and made sure I was as comfortable as possible on this flight, as I had mentioned it was my first time flying business class. They gave me a glass of champagne, took some photos for mementos and was given a quick rundown on how the seat works.
The Air New Zealand Business Premier seats are in a herringbone layout. 1-2-1 seating arrangement, the way the seats are angled is interesting to note, with the window seats angled toward the centre, and the two centre seats are angled out towards those seated in the windows.
I was seated in a centre seat, which honestly made not much difference if you could see out the window or not. It is also good to note that all business class seats lay flat into bed on long haul routes and are made of leather.
The inflight entertainment screens fold out easily from the side of the seat next to you. The only gripe being that during taxi, take-off and landing, your screen has to be folded away, but it’s still is accessible, by twisting around to watch it.
There was plenty of legroom in my seat, however I am 175cm/5’9 tall so if you are taller or shorter than me the space would vary.
The benefit I liked about sitting in this seat is the ottoman, which you can put your feet up, or even have someone sit with you during the flight and there is a seatbelt for them as well.
The service began when I first arrived onto the plane, I was welcomed on board, given a welcoming sparkling wine and had the flight attendants show me around the seat, being a first timer.
Approximately 15 minutes after the service, the FA’s came around with our meal orders and drink offers. I then got a water and ordered my breakfast, which I had a berry smoothie, smoked fish cakes with white sauce, plus cereal and fresh fruit.
Honestly, I was full after the fish cakes but the food and drinks kept on coming, including the alcohol – I somewhat staggered off the flight a wee bit tipsy after that!
The inflight entertainment is probably one of the best I’ve come across, very responsive and a fantastic selection, from blockbuster movies that were in the cinema only a few months ago, to TV seasons and even All Black match replays!
I happened to find a documentary on there called ‘The Weight Of The Nation’ which, is about the journey of the All Blacks from their 2007 Rugby World Cup quarter final defeat to their 2011 Rugby World Cup final victory.
There is always one part of that documentary where I end up being a blubbering mess, when Sir Graham Henry, the former coach of the All Blacks says how special the now former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is, and well this moment, I’m in tears, and the FAs come running with a box of tissues for me. Now that’s service!
Post landing, FAs and the flight crew were more than happy to show me around their plane and show me their recently released Economy Skycouch and how it operated as well.
This is probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with flying, and the service was outstanding. I was truly looked after the entire flight and nothing I asked for was too big for them.
I truly commend Air New Zealand for their award winning service and I always enjoy flying with them, as when I hop on board, I am treated like whanau (family)
Lauren flew with Air New Zealand at her own expense.