web Musings of The Global Traveller

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Travel, travel and more travel

Oops it's been a while since my last blog entry. Naturally I have been travelling a lot, some planned and some unplanned.

Air New Zealand
In the past month I have experienced Air New Zealand's new longhaul product in both business class and premium economy. I think the new business premier (on all 777-200ERs and by now most 747-400 aircraft are also refitted) seat is great. Coupled with Air New Zealand's excellant service, new audio-video on demand (the flight path has some nifty graphics) and fine New Zealand wines and food, this product is about the best business class I have tried and better than some airlines' first class. I even found that they have printed a wine guide featuring all the business class wines and, perhaps mindful that many passengers won't be familiar with the New Zealand wine scene, a background to the different regions and varieties.

But it wasn't all good news as far as I was concerned. The premium economy was disappointing and did not live up to the hype. Yes it is more comfortable than economy (extra leg-room and recline - the seats are still narrow), but I did not feel it was worth the significant extra price charged.

Unplanned travel
I have recently redeemed an award for the most points per flown mile that I have ever had. And yet I still consider it a good value award. The death of a close relative just before I headed off on a longhaul trip created a few scheduling headaches (on top of all the other emotions). Not only was my own schedule a tricky one involving many thousands of miles and several time zones, but I also needed to arrange (much shorter) travel for others to ensure they could attend the funeral. Fortunately my existing ticket would see me close to the place where the funeral was held without needing to change it.

Last minute fares for the short extra legs were ridiculously high, as expected, and no bereavement fares were available. So I used some miles to get a couple of last minute awards. Yes I could have used the miles for longhaul travel where it would have higher value, but the saving of a large and unplanned cash outlay was worth it, and enabling others to make the funeral when they wouldn't have otherwise was priceless.

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