At the time of writing this I’m flying at 874km/h at 10,972 ft and I’m just 42 minutes away from reaching New Zealand after 5.5 years away.

I’m on my second glass of champagne, I’ve had no sleep on the entire 13 hour flight and have now been up for 28 hours. I’m on my second glass of champagne because I managed to knock over the last part of my first one, so was on to drinking water.

That water then got knocked over by a young girl with gorgeous golden curls whose energetic arms swiped it clean off my tray as she passed by. Her Dad came back with a full glass of champagne as an apology! I’ll definitely be in a celebratory yet jetlagged state on arrival in Auckland now.

I had been unsure how I’d feel about going home, but when I got to LAX airport and was surrounded by strong Kiwi accents again, I had this warm fuzzy feeling go through my body. A rekindling of my love for New Zealanders. What made it even funnier was the Air France flight right next to ours. Every 30 seconds they’d play announcement tag between the airlines and their vastly different accents was just adorable.

I had such a great experience on this whole journey home that I wanted to give you nine reasons why I love Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand best travel airline

1. Friendly down to earth service

I had forgotten how great our national airline is. Friends keep telling me that they have always had a great flying experience with Air New Zealand and now I remember why myself. The staff aren’t all 23 and beautiful. They’re actually renowned for being `vintage’ (as in older) and I mean that in the best way possible. Friendly staff, genuine smiles, helpful advice, rapid service and an ability to just chat and engage.

2. Great leg room

After flying too many US airlines where they expect you to be 5ft 2 inches and light as a feather it’s wonderful to have ample leg room and no one in the middle seat. Comfy pillows, quality blankets and headsets you don’t have to pay for all help make it extra special.

3. Quality Entertainment options

Once my laptop died I got on to watching movies and had a large multicultural choice to choose from. American, Kiwi and Chinese were the main choices. I watched Source Code, Thor, Water for Elephants.I finished it off by watching the 2010 Rugby Tri Nations final which I sadly didn’t get to see until now, and am elated to know that the All Blacks won with two killer tries in the last 5 minutes. I actually had tears in my eyes.

4. Relaxed Rules

There’s a large galley at the back of the plane and no crew telling me to keep my seatbelt on and stay seated no matter what. I’m free to roam where I please and people have been back there chatting to the crew, getting snacks and drinks. I feel liberated.

5. Delicious Food

Quality choices of roast chicken and vegetables or beef lasagne with a fine selection of wonderful New Zealand wines. The first taste of the Sauvignon Blanc on my lips made me reminisce on many a fantastic New Zealand white wine I’ve tasted before – it’s a taste like no other.

6. Funky outfits

Air New Zealand has had a long tradition of unconventional, trendy, fashion forward outfits for their crew. I’m really liking the graffiti waist coasts, pin stripe pants and use of blue and pink (mixed in with traditional teal colour)

7. Over and above

When I could no longer stand the man snoring so loudly across the aisle from me, I hit the call button and a crew member came straight to my aid. I asked for water and if he could do anything to shut the man up. He offered me another seat immediately. The other steward backed up with his jug of water and bumped the snoring man’s shoulder on purpose which woke him up. He winked at me and it did actually help for about 10 minutes. In the meantime another guy had gone and got me super insulated surround sound headset from Premium Economy which did the trick. And yet another bought me ear plugs, socks and an eye mask!

8. The safety video

What other airline uses their head Rugby Coach, National players, radio presenters and airline crew to make an entertaining safety video. As a Kiwi there are lots of innuendos in this video you may not understand, and people you won’t recognise. But it’s a perfect safety video that shows our humour, national pride and our love for rugby (in lead up to the Rugby World Cup in September).

9. The sweets

Air New Zealand is the only airline I’ve known, since my childhood, to give out the same hard candied sweets before landing. This job falls to some specially chosen kids (I was once asked to do this important task on a flight many moons ago). If you suck 0n the sweet hard enough they help pop your ears as the pressure drops. This is an added extra they’re known and loved for.

PS I’m now in New Zealand and almost falling asleep but just had to say I was beyond impressed at how fast I got through customs. The plane landed early and it took me less tha 30 minutes to

  • Get off the flight
  • Go through customs (swiped my new passport, no people contact required)
  • Get my luggage
  • Buy a sim card for my iPhone and have it fully functioning

Now that’s why I love New Zealand. Clean, modern, free of crowds and with friendly, efficient service!

What’s your favourite airline and why?