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Flight Review: Air New Zealand Business Premier – MEL to AKL, 777-300

Air New Zealand 777-300 in Black Paint Livery parked on apron at Melbourne Airport with a jet bridge attached.

Air New Zealand Business Premier is Air New Zealand’s Business Class offering, available on their 777-300 and 787-9 airplanes. It is a luxurious experience right from check-in to arrival, and well worth considering if you get the chance. In this flight review, we’ll be taking a close look at Air New Zealand’s Business Premier service on a flight I took recently (post-COVID) in March 2023 from Melbourne, Australia (MEL) to Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) aboard their 777-300 aircraft.

From check-in to arrival, we’ll cover everything you can expect from this premium trans-Tasman service. We’ll also compare it to other airlines’ business class offerings and provide tips on how to upgrade to Business Premier for your next flight. So, welcome onboard this Air New Zealand flight bound for Auckland.

Melbourne Sign at Melbourne International Airport

Check-in Experience

Checking in for an Air New Zealand flight is a breeze as Business Premier customers have priority check-in (along with Premium Economy, Star Alliance Silver and Gold customers), and priority security lines at selected airports. Unfortunately for my journey, Melbourne Airport isn’t one of those options but luckily security queues were minimal at the time I went through. For departures from Auckland Airport, Air New Zealand has a dedicated check in area with an elevator that goes directly to security (and Business Premier customers have access to fast-track security).

The swift check-in and security experience leaves plenty of time to relax and chill out in the Air New Zealand Melbourne Lounge before the boarding call.

Melbourne Air New Zealand Lounge entrance
Entrance to the Melbourne Air New Zealand Lounge
Melbourne Air New Zealand Lounge seating area
Private Seating Area inside the Melbourne Air New Zealand Lounge
Melbourne Air New Zealand Lounge food buffet area
Buffet Section of the Air New Zealand Melbourne Lounge

Air New Zealand Melbourne Lounge

Air New Zealand has a fantastic design scheme consistent throughout all of their lounges that is modern, light and appealing with many amenities tailored to the frequent flyer. The lounge is spacious, well-lit and has views over the apron, with many different seating options, depending on what you plan to do in the lounge.

To find the Air New Zealand Melbourne Lounge, take the escalator down near Gate 15. Then, it’s down a further escalator near the American Express Centurion Lounge. As this is the only lounge on the ground floor, it feels very private and secluded. 

Barista Station

As you enter, one of Air New Zealand’s lounge signatures appears right in front of you – the barista coffee station. I love a good barista coffee before a flight (as coffee in the air isn’t anywhere near as good) and this is no exception. Even better, Air New Zealand has taken the coffee experience one step further with the ability to order through the Air New Zealand app if you are eligible for lounge access. This is nice if you’re heading to the lounge straight after clearing security, so you can order and your hot coffee will be ready for you waiting once you arrive at the lounge. Especially great if you’re don’t have much time before boarding. I found the baristas are also happy to make iced coffee drinks too on demand, but there is no option for this through the app.

Lounge Bar

Situated next to the barista station is the bar, which serves wine, beer and signature Air New Zealand cocktails for afternoon and evening flights. Unfortunately as I had a midday flight, I didn’t get to try any of these today.

To the left of the barista station is a long self-service bar fully stocked with beer, various New Zealand wines, spirits, NZ cider, and non-alcoholic soft drinks and mixers. When I was in this lounge, highlights included Vila Maria Sparkling Wine, Zeffyr Passionfruit Cider (a favourite of mine), Esk Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Vidal Reserve Chardonnay, Vila Maria Pinot Gris, Vidal Reserve Pinot Noir, Vila Maria Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon and a variety of beers.

Food Buffet Station

Beyond this, is the food buffet station, with lots of different options catering to a variety of dietary requirements including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian. As my flight was at midday, I had the breakfast and start of the lunch selection. There were both hot and cold options, as well as smoothies, chia pots and yoghurt pots. All the food was super fresh and healthy, and much better than you would typically find in an airport lounge.

Air New Zealand Lounge Shower Suites at Melbourne Airport stocked with Antipodes toiletries
Air New Zealand Lounge Shower Suites at Melbourne Airport stocked with Antipodes toiletries


One of my favourite things about Air New Zealand lounges is the super modern and clean rain showers. Stocked with Antipodes amenities, they are just lovely and well worth getting to the airport earlier. Much nicer than my hotel! The shower suites are cleaned between uses and towels are provided. A good tip is to remember to bring any skincare, makeup or hair products you need (under 100ml) in your carry-on if you intend to use the showers before your flight.

Seating Options

For the workaholics, there are power outlets throughout the lounge, USB ports and high-speed Wi-Fi. There is also lots of table seating too, and these funky chairs which would be a great and comfortable way to send some emails with some privacy.

All in all, the Air New Zealand Melbourne Lounge is a great pre-flight experience for all types of frequent flyers from leisure to business, that should set the standard for other airline lounges. I highly recommend getting to the airport early if you are eligible for lounge access to relax in this fantastic space.

Air New Zealand Business Premier Seat on the 777-300 Aircraft

Air New Zealand Business Premier Boarding and Cabin Layout

For Air New Zealand Business Premier and Star Alliance Gold flyers, you will enjoy priority boarding and be amongst the first on the plane with a dedicated priority boarding lane. The flight attendants use the extra time to greet and assist passengers with their luggage, but it is more personalised than in other classes. The purser came and introduced herself, and gave an overview of today’s flight as well as today’s menu onboard.

Business Premier is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration on Air New Zealand’s 777-300. Each seat has direct aisle access in a herringbone configuration, with feet pointed towards the aisle. This is the same as Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class seat, which is the same seat make. The cabin features soft ambient mood lighting in the signature Air New Zealand purple (for premium cabins) that creates an inviting and relaxed atmosphere. Note that Air New Zealand will start rolling out their updated Business Premier cabin later this year and throughout 2024 which features a reverse herringbone layout more in line with other airlines today.

Glass of Champagne in Air New Zealand Business Premier Seat Shelf


Air New Zealand Business Premier passengers are offered a welcome drink of New Zealand Sparkling Wine, Orange Juice or Water pre-departure. Note that Air New Zealand does not serve Champagne in Business Premier until the flight has taken off, but the sparkling wine is still great. Business Premier passengers are also offered a hot towel.

Something I’ve always loved about Air New Zealand is that they pioneered the quirky airline safety video, to get passenger’s attention and make sure they actually stay engaged. Many other airlines have now copied this practice for the same reasons.

Here is the current 2023 Air New Zealand safety video, if you are an AVGeek like me and enjoy these kinds of things. This one pays homage to Maori heritage, the local indigenous population of New Zealand.

Also going to link below my all-time favourite Air New Zealand safety video filmed in Antarctica because it’s just cinematic and picturesque.

Air New Zealand Business Premier Seat

The Air New Zealand Business Premier Seat is comfortable and luxurious, in cream coloured leather. The seat is 22-inch wide, and features an 80-inch (6’7.5”) bed length when fully reclined, perfect and comfortable for tall passengers such as myself.

The seat features at ottoman at the end for your feet. The ottoman is also designed to be used as a seat for a dining companion, but it is quite narrow. Under the ottoman is storage space for your shoes, should you wish to take them off. On the forward side, there is your table which pops out from the seat-shell wall, the in-flight entertainment screen, a reading light and a drinks shelf which pops out. It is worth mentioning how large the table is – it’s spacious enough to get some work done mid-flight.

Do note, that because of the herringbone design, you basically have to turn around to see out the window, so if you are someone who enjoys looking out the window for most of the flight, Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy may be a better option for you.

All-in-all, Air New Zealand’s Business Premier seat is comfortable and well-equipped for even the longest of long-haul journeys (eg. Auckland to New York).

Air New Zealand Business Premier Menu
The Menu on today’s flight (as well as the inbound flight too).
Air New Zealand Business Premier VGML Vegan Meal Starter Course
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad starter.
Air New Zealand Business Premier VGML Vegan Meal Main Course
Ratatouille with Polenta main.
Air New Zealand Business Premier VGML Vegan Meal Dessert Course
Passionfruit Cake with Mango Coulis dessert.

Air New Zealand Business Premier Food and Wine

Air New Zealand’s food and wine has always been very good in my opinion. I used to fly them regularly, and I cannot remember the last time I had a bad meal with them.

Air New Zealand Business Premier Menu

Above, you can see the normal menu for today’s flight as well as the morning outbound leg from New Zealand. Whilst a 3-course breakfast is nice, I do feel like the lunch and dinner menu is more impressive. I like that they stay true to New Zealand cuisine, and focus on showcasing local produce. There are also a wide-selection of special meals available for pre-order for a range of allergies and intolerances. I opted for the VGML or Vegetarian Vegan Meal on this flight. I had a Mediterranean Quinoa salad to start, Ratatouille with Polenta for the main, and a fantastic Passionfruit Cake with Mango Coulis for dessert. All in all, fairly decent but would prefer to see more creativity for a business class main.

Air New Zealand Business Premier Wine

Additionally, with New Zealand wine being some of the best in the world, Air New Zealand really utilises the opportunity to showcase New Zealand wine in all classes, with the very best-of-the-best award-winning wines served in Business Premier.

On this flight, the Business Premier white wine selection consisted of Laurent Perrier Champagne, Auntsfield Sauvignon Blanc, St Clair James Sinclair Pinot Gris, Riverby Chardonnay and The Doctors Riesling – all fantastic wines. If you are flying Business Premier soon, be sure to ask for a wine tasting. I had a tasting with my meal, and the crew were happy to oblige and even asked afterwards which I preferred. They also had a selection of top New Zealand red wines too, and spirits which were less impressive. I would hope, in future, Air New Zealand would showcase some of the fantastic New Zealand Vodkas, Gins and Whiskies that have started to be distilled locally in New Zealand over the last few years.

Another point to highlight is that the food served in Air New Zealand Premium Economy is very similar to Business Premier, with slight tweaks to plating and some small elements. The wine list in Premium Economy however is very different to Business Premier (similar but slightly upgraded from the Economy wine list) and features no champagne. However if you do end up sitting in Premium Economy instead of Business Premier, you won’t be worse off food-wise.

I am definitely a big fan of Air New Zealand’s Business Premier food and wine offering, and whilst there are small improvements that could be made, I would take this any day over many other airlines.

Air New Zealand Amenities

All Business Premier passengers received a bottle of water, a pillow and blanket, and noise-cancelling headphones waiting for them at their seat upon boarding. No amenity kit is provided on these short trans-Tasman flight sadly. Air New Zealand has free Wi-Fi for all passengers which is such a luxury these days, however I couldn’t connect to it and therefore couldn’t assess it’s speed. Fortunately, the comprehensive in-flight entertainment selection kept me occupied for the 4-hour hop across the Tasman.

Air New Zealand Business Premier In flight entertainment screen

Air New Zealand In-flight Entertainment

Air New Zealand has a fairly good and wide-ranging in-flight entertainment system showcasing both New Zealand and International TV and Film, as well as extensive music and games libraries.

The Business Premier screen is 11-inch (28cm) in diameter and contains USB-A chargers to charge your electronic devices whilst you can still watch the main screen. This is especially handy during meal times as you can have your devices on the tray table and still watch your TV show or movie. The screen is touch screen but you do also have a remote if you cannot reach the screen, or are in a reclined position. Active noise-cancelling headphones are also provided, however they’re nothing special so I would just use your own if you can.

I ended up binge-watching “Derry Girls” on this flight. Whilst other airlines such as Cathay Pacific definitely have a more modern movie selection and new releases, Air New Zealand definitely had plenty of in-flight entertainment options to help pass the time.

View of the West Coast of the North Island of New Zealand from an Airplane on approach into Auckland Airport
Incredible Views on approach into Auckland Airport.


Upon arrival in Auckland, those seated in Business Premier are the first off the plane, meaning they are the first through immigration and customs before the large queues form. And with priority baggage, Business Premier customers get landside quicker. It was very smooth and easy, although it could have just been that there were few other arriving aircraft at the time of arrival.

Overall, my Business Premier experience on this short trans-Tasman flight was just great from start to finish. The crew were attentive and friendly, the seat was comfortable and the fantastic food and wine made for a truly enjoyable and easy journey. If you get the chance, definitely upgrade to Air New Zealand Business Premier.

How to upgrade to Air New Zealand Business Premier


Air New Zealand runs frequent sales throughout the year on various short and long-haul routes across their network. Business Premier fares are often discounted in sales on certain routes for limited time periods and dates. Booking Business Premier flights during these sales ensures you receive the associated Airpoints Dollars and Status Credits of the cabin and fare.

Recognition Upgrade

Air New Zealand Silver, Gold and Elite frequent fryers receive a specific number of recognition upgrades per year. Recognition Upgrades can be redeemed for free one-sector cabin upgrades across the Air New Zealand network. Gold and Elite frequent flyers also receive short-haul recognition upgrades separately for short-haul trans-Tasman and Pacific Island flights. For long-haul recognition upgrades (and the recognition upgrades for Silver status frequent flyers), these can be used on trans-Tasman and Pacific Island flights for a two-cabin upgrade, eg. Economy to Business Premier. Whilst recognition upgrades are subject to availability in the cabin you are after, they do clear before OneUp upgrades and clear in the order of frequent flyer status with Air New Zealand.


Air New Zealand has a bidding system where you can bid cash or Airpoints Dollars to upgrade to the next cabin up (eg. Economy to Premium Economy or Premium Economy to Business Premier). You can bid from the time of reservation up until three days before your flight.

OneUp offers are upweighted according to your Air New Zealand frequent flyer status. However, they do clear after recognition upgrades, and are subject to availability in the cabin you are upgrading to.

It can be a bit of a lottery as to how full your flight will be, however I have had success in the past with OneUp upgrades on off-peak flights so it’s worth bidding if an upgrade is within your budget. Note you won’t get an increased amount of status credits or Airpoints Dollars from a OneUp (or recognition) upgrade, so it makes sense to pay cash for your base cabin and submit a OneUp upgrade bid with Airpoints Dollars if you hold a balance. The bid strength indicator should be ignored as it’s not relevant to the weighting of existing offers. It is worth checking online for successful bids in the past for the route you are flying, to get a rough indication of what you should be offering for a successful upgrade.

Air New Zealand Business Premier vs. Other Airlines

Whilst other reviewers often complain about Air New Zealand’s Business Premier seat, I do like it. The herringbone design layout however does make it difficult to look out the window, so if you do enjoying looking out the window for most of the flight, it may be better to sit in Premium Economy instead. The good news is that Air New Zealand is rolling out a cabin refresh shortly, updating Business Premier to new seats in a reverse herringbone layout, which solves this window issue, and which will feel more spacious and luxurious. The reverse herringbone design is already found on many other airlines in Business and First Class these days. Hopefully, this will boost Air New Zealand as a serious contender amongst some of the world’s best airlines.

For me, Air New Zealand is just so unique and fun to fly with, the service is generally top-notch, food very good and wine selection really best-in-class. They always try to innovate and push the envelope with their service offering, including with the Skycouch and new Skynest bunk beds in Economy Class. I really like the Air New Zealand Airpoints Program too, however you can still earn points, miles and tier credits/status points with any other Star Alliance frequent flyer program.

All in all, I always enjoy flying Air New Zealand when I get a chance, however I do generally fly premium economy with them more often than not. Please see my review here to compare Air New Zealand Premium Economy.

View of Auckland CBD from an Airplane on approach into Auckland Airport.
View of Auckland CBD on approach into Auckland Airport.


In conclusion, Air New Zealand Business Premier is a great option if its within your budget, you can use airline miles, or utilise recognition or OneUp upgrades through the Air New Zealand Airpoints Program. Air New Zealand Business Premier is a top-notch experience, that is just so enjoyable and impressive from check-in to arrival. In my opinion, it doesn’t deserve the negative press around the dated seats (which are still very comfortable, and being upgraded from late 2023 onwards). 

If you want window views however, it may be best to book either Skycouch (for a lie-flat experience) or Premium Economy, both of which are very enjoyable for a long-haul flight. 

The service is always refreshing friendly and professional, with great food and wine options, celebrating top award-winning New Zealand wines. Air New Zealand is a great option to consider if you are planning on flying one of the routes they fly and can find a flight option within your budget or with available points/miles/rewards.