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Flight Review: Air New Zealand Premium Economy AKL to DPS, 777-300

Air New Zealand 777-300 Parked on the airport apron

Air New Zealand only recently re-introduced their direct Auckland to Denpasar, Bali flights in May 2023 post-pandemic, with a huge upgrade. Pre-pandemic, the service resembled that of their trans-Tasman and Pacific Islands offering. However, this is a 9-hour-plus flight, so it’s great to see the full long-haul service introduced. Today, I am flying Air New Zealand Premium Economy on this daytime flight, and will arrive into Bali late afternoon.

Below is my full review of the Auckland to Bali flight, in Air New Zealand Premium Economy, aboard the 777-300.

Premium Check-In Area at Auckland Airport

Air New Zealand Premium Check-In at Auckland Airport

One of the best things about flying Air New Zealand in a Premium cabin (or with Gold or Elite status) from Auckland Airport is the dedicated Premium Check-in area to the right of the standard Airline check-in desks. This hidden area has plenty of staff to help you check-in or self-check-in and bag drop with  you step into the Auckland Airport, your journey with Air New Zealand’s plenty of staff around to help with any issues or travel changes. The area has a dedicated elevator which pre-COVID, had a dedicated security lane and takes you right through to immigration. These days, the elevator takes you right to immigration and security lanes (with everyone else). However, Business Premier passengers have access to fast-track security. 

This is a lovely feature and makes the check-in experience special, quiet, seamless and easy. It would be nice for them to bring the dedicated fast-track security line back for all Air New Zealand Gold, Elite and both Premium Economy and Business Premier passengers, but due to Auckland Airport’s current ongoing redevelopment, that seems unlikely at this stage. 

Air New Zealand Auckland Airport Lounge Bar

Air New Zealand Lounge at Auckland Airport

The flagship Air New Zealand Lounge at Auckland Airport is absolute bliss. Great food, fantastic New Zealand wines and cider, a bar with cocktails, barista station and a variety of seating options await. Additionally, the showers are incredible and there is a kids area if you are travelling with family. There is too much to cover to go into depth about this lounge, so check out my full and detailed review here.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Cabin

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Boarding and Cabin Layout

Air New Zealand Premium Economy passengers have priority boarding after Business Premier passengers have boarded. Stepping onboard, the Premium Economy cabin consists of 54 seats on the 777-300 in a 2-4-2 configuration. My seat for this flight was 23A – a bulkhead window seat at the front left of the Premium Economy cabin, right behind Business Premier. The premium cabins on Air New Zealand (Premium Economy and Business Premier) have signature purple mood lighting as you step on board.


Waiting for me at my seat was the Air New Zealand Premium Economy amenity kit, a small pillow, a blanket and a bottle of water. Pre-departure, a flight attendant came and introduced himself and offered a pre-departure beverage of water, orange juice or New Zealand sparkling wine. He also discussed details of the flight today, what my plans were in Bali, and took my order for Lunch.

All-in-all, a great first impression of a very friendly and attentive cabin crew.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy seat

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Seat

Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy seat is a really comfortable seat from Zodiac Aerospace (similar to Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy seat), with 41-42 inches of leg room, and 20 inches in seat width. It is noticeably larger and more spacious than Economy, and the extra recline is also noticeable when trying to sleep. Some other reviewers have mentioned they prefer these seats to Business Premier as you can actually see out the window rather than having your back face the window the entire flight. I was in a bulkhead seat, which usually means more legroom however for some reason, on the 777-300, I found not being able to stretch my legs out under the seat in front quite restrictive (I am 6”1).

Next time I would pick row 24-26 on either the left or right side of the aircraft (avoiding the middle section) as these seats on the side have the most legroom. The seats also feature a power socket under the seats, and a calf rest with a fold-down footrest that stretches out. Whilst it’s not nearly the same as a lie-flat bed, elevating your feet off the floor is surprisingly comfortable and personally I find it helps me get to sleep.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Food Menu

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Food and Wine

The menu for today’s flight was waiting for me at my seat upon boarding, and orders for lunch were taken promptly pre-departure.

As you can see below, Premium Economy Lunch and Dinner consists of three courses, served together. See above the menu on today’s flight (as well as the inbound). Below is the Lunch meal on today’s flight:

Air New Zealand Premium Economy VGML Lunch Service

A wide range of special meals (14 in total) are also available on Air New Zealand. I ordered the VGML (Vegan Vegetarian) meal on today’s flight (make sure you pre-order at least 24 hours before you fly). 

Air New Zealand Premium Economy VGML Lunch

On this flight, for the Lunch Service, I had a Pesto Israeli Couscous Salad with pumpkin and a single cherry tomato, Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce with rice, roast carrot and cauliflower as a main, and a delicious Mango Passionfruit cake for dessert. Air New Zealand does have a fantastic bread basket service which comes around the cabin with fresh, warm breads and Hawke’s Bay EVOO. My favourite were the sundried tomato rolls, so definitely keep an eye out on your flight if they are offered.

My Thoughts

In all, great, fresh food however I wish Air New Zealand pushed the boundaries a bit more as they have in the past. Serving chickpeas in Premium Economy or Business Class (Air New Zealand Premium Economy share basically the same menus and the same special meals as Business Premier) seems like a cost-cutting measure on a premium-priced product.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy VGML Dinner Service

Air New Zealand Premium Economy VGML Dinner

Dinner was served before landing, and this “light meal” also consisted of three courses served together. For my VGML, I had a Mediterranean Quinoa salad as an appetizer, followed by Ratatouille and wilted spinach with polenta as a main, followed by the same mango and passionfruit cake for dessert.

My Thoughts

Whilst this was absolutely delicious, the lack of protein with the main and the repeated dessert made this feel like another cost-cutting exercise in what is premium cabin (that is priced much higher than alternative airlines). However, it was nice to see Air New Zealand using the Business Class menus for Premium Economy as most airlines serve slightly adapted Economy menus in Premium Economy (including Cathay Pacific).

In terms of the wine offerings on today’s flight, I didn’t catch the full wine list, but I tried the Vidal Reserve Chardonnay which is lovely, as well as the Two Rivers Sparkling Rosé Brut. There was also a non-Rosé sparkling option, and some red wines too. Fairly comprehensive for an in-flight wine selection, and much better than other Premium Economy offerings on other airlines.

With so much fantastic New Zealand wine, it’s great to see Air New Zealand showcasing local wines to their passengers from all over the world. They even have onboard “Wine Consultants” who can help with pairing wines to your meal and, as I did, organise a wine tasting for you of several different drops to enjoy with your meal (or after). Whilst there is no champagne in Premium Economy, the New Zealand Sparkling Wine offered is top-quality, and I would take that over a lower-grade champagne any day.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Amenity Kit

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Amenities

Luckily, Air New Zealand has changed their Auckland to Bali service to their long-haul product from their trans-Tasman product post-pandemic, and rightfully so with a flight time of 9 hours. This means you get the full Air New Zealand Premium Economy amenity kit, and a blanket and pillow.

We all have lots of old amenity kits lying around, with certain airlines making them suitable for alternative uses or recyclable. Air New Zealand is taking a sustainable approach. The kit itself is made from recycled paper, and is meant to be recycled after the flight. Whilst not suitable for long-term use, I have way too many of these, and often give them away to family and friends, so it is nice to see a more sustainable approach here (as to the contents of the amenity kit). Below are the contents included in the amenity kit:

  • Colourful Flight Socks
  • Foam Earplugs
  • Ballpoint Pen
  • Ashley & Co Lip Punch (Lip Balm)
  • White Glo Toothpaste
  • Bamboo Toothbrush

Most of the contents of the amenity kit are packaged in paper packaging. The socks and toothbrush handle are made from bamboo. These little sustainable touches make a big difference on a big scale. Also key to note, eye masks are available on request (to reduce wastage) and they are really, really comfy. In fact, I still used my Air New Zealand eye mask last night. Really soft, and completely blackout.

In addition to the amenity kit, the pillow was fine and blanket too. This flight I found a little chilly sitting by the window, so the blanket was very useful, and was warm.

In-flight Entertainment Screen

Air New Zealand Premium Economy In-flight Entertainment

Air New Zealand has an extensive in-flight entertainment system showcasing both New Zealand and International TV, Film and Music. It was fairly good with over 1,700 hours of content but did lack new releases so the content was a little dated on the whole. There were some great New Zealand blockbusters there to rewatch, and fantastic TV series to help pass the time.

In Premium Economy, seats are equipped with a 12-inch touch screen and remote control should you not be able to reach the screen. Premium Economy also comes with a set of noise-cancelling headphones which is the same type as the Business Premier cabin. There is also a USB port to charge and watch your content on the entertainment screen, and a standard headphone jack should you bring your own noise-cancelling headphones on the plane which is a nice touch.

Air New Zealand also has a unique “Seat Chat” feature, where you can communicate with other passengers on board via a private messenger feature. This is super handy if you are travelling with friends or family in another cabin class or section of the plane.

The in-flight entertainment system also contains a “Food and Drink” feature where you can order snacks and beverages to your seat. This is a super handy feature in my opinion. My order was delivered promptly by a flight attendant. The “Amenities” section includes a range of amenities that you can also order to your seat, including eye masks.

In all, the Air New Zealand In-flight Entertainment system is perfectly adequate and makes it very easy to pass the time on a long 9-hour flight.

Air New Zealand Premium Economy Service

Air New Zealand’s service is top-notch, and one of my favourite airlines to fly for this reason alone. The staff were really friendly and chatty, and this starts from the outset when the flight attendant serving you today will introduce themselves, discuss the flight, take your pre-departure beverage order and what food you would like from the menu. Air New Zealand crew are professional in a smart casual way, which makes a refreshing change from other airlines. Having flown with Air New Zealand many times, the service has always been great.

Unfortunately, on this flight, a 9-hour daytime flight, after lunch, the cabin was dimmed. The flight attendants disappeared until the dinner service near landing. Air New Zealand have a section on their In-flight Entertainment system where you can order snacks, drinks and extra amenities such as eye masks to your seat, however it would have been nice for flight attendants to do a few water runs down the cabin at some point during the day. There is also a self-serve snack and drink area at the front of the cabin.

It felt strange to have forced sleep on a 9-hour daytime flight that didn’t match up with the origin or departure time zone, and also felt operationally lazy. I think having a bar and snack service at least 2 or 3 times during the day or even just water service would go a long way, and wouldn’t necessarily disturb those passengers who choose to sleep.

All in all, I have had better service from Air New Zealand in the past, but it was still pretty good, especially compared to many other carriers.

Two Glasses, One with Water and One with Apple Juice

Insider Tips and Tricks for upgrading to Air New Zealand Premium Economy for Cheaper

There are several ways to upgrade to Air New Zealand Premium Economy for less:

Cash Fare

Take advantage of Air New Zealand’s frequent sales to book Premium Economy sale fares, and still get the full Air New Zealand status credits (or equivalent if you hold your frequent flyer account with another Star Alliance partner airline). This is the one way to guarantee the cabin you will fly if this is important to you. Lately, there have been some great trans-Tasman sales and since this route to Bali only restarted in 2023, hopefully, we will start to see some great sale fares here too in the future.

Recognition Upgrades

If you hold elite status with Air New Zealand (Silver or above), you will receive a certain number of recognition upgrades per membership year. You can use Recognition Upgrades either for two-cabin upgrades on trans-Tasman and Pacific routes (eg. From Economy to Business Premier) or one-cabin on all other long-haul routes. The magic of these is that they clear before OneUp upgrades, so it is more likely that you will be upgraded than other passengers with OneUp bids if there is cabin space available. Note that you won’t receive Airpoints Dollars or status credits on the upgraded fare – only the base fare if paid with cash.


OneUp is Air New Zealand’s upgrade bidding system. You can bid to upgrade your cabin (from your already paid cash or Airpoints Dollars fare) with cash or Airpoints Dollars by setting a bid on how much you are willing to pay. The highest bidders, after recognition upgrades clear, are upgraded to the remaining seats in the cabin. Your final bid must be in 72 hours before your flight’s departure. There is some uplift for different frequent flyer tiers with Air New Zealand, but you absolutely don’t need to have an Airpoints account to make a bid. Like recognition upgrades, if successful, you will only earn Airpoints Dollars and status credits on the underlying cash-paid fare. Whilst these can be a bit of a “luck of the draw”, it’s always worth making a bid, especially on long flights.

Upgrading doesn’t always need to break the bank, so it’s worth exploring your options and whether upgrading is important to you on your next Air New Zealand flight.

Air New Zealand 777-300 Airplane Wing


Compared to other Premium Economy cabins, Air New Zealand Premium Economy is truly a cut above the rest. It’s no surprise that it has won numerous “Best Premium Economy” awards from many different publications. It’s nice to see Premium Economy treated like a “business-lite” product instead of an “economy-plus” product found on many other airlines. Whilst with this flight, small operational touches and improvements could have made the experience much better, it was still enjoyable and something I will happily fly again. Air New Zealand is refreshing their cabins starting from 2024, with an all new Premium Economy (as well as Economy and Business Premier offerings) so I am very excited to see how those will stack up to the current offering.