New Zealand remains the most popular international destination for Australian travellers, and Melbourne residents have no shortage of options for getting there in style.
Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air New Zealand and even Emirates all offer business class flights across the pond – but which should you choose on your next trans-Tasman hop?
Australian Business Traveller looks at your options and reveals how you could pay no more to fly in a fully-flat bed than for a domestic-grade reclining seat, based on fares for flights in late October 2016.
1. Emirates Airbus A380 business class
The world’s largest passenger plane doesn’t just ferry travellers afar – it also jets between Australia and New Zealand each day, providing truly international-grade standard of business class on those 3.5-4 hour flights.
Upsides: While you probably wouldn’t change into your (BYO) pyjamas and catch some shut-eye on flights this short, you still have the option of converting your seat into a fully-flat bed: from which you also enjoy direct access to the aisle and your own private at-seat minibar.
But the real drawcard will be the inflight cocktail bar and lounge shared between business class and first class flyers, where a bartender will mix your favourite drinks or pour your Champagne to enjoy as you mix and mingle with other high flyers.
Downsides: There really are no downsides to the flight itself, although the 8am departure from Melbourne could mean a much earlier start to the day for most travellers, who’ll have limited time to enjoy the new Emirates lounge at Melbourne Airport.
Price: From $1,713 return
AusBT review: Emirates Airbus A380 business class
2. Air New Zealand Boeing 777, 787 business class
Business class on Air NZ provides more flexibility as to when you travel with multiple flights each day as opposed to Emirates’ daily service.
Upsides: Also with fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for all, Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777-200, Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 787-9 aircraft are the same you’d expect to see flying on longer routes such as to Los Angeles and Houston…
… and with pre-flight access to the modern Air NZ lounge in the Kiwi carrier’s home hub.
Downsides: Some NZ flights across the pond are all-economy, so you’ll need to choose your flight numbers carefully or wind up flying down the back. As a rule, avoid flight numbers beginning with ‘7’ (such as NZ722) – instead, choosing flight numbers beginning with ‘1’ (eg. NZ126).
Air New Zealand’s lounge in Melbourne is also currently closed for refurbishment, during which time travellers are directed to a temporary set-up in the space which previously served as the United Club.
Price: From $1,701 return
AusBT review: Air NZ Boeing 787-9 business class
3. Qantas Boeing 737 business class
With several flights a day, Qantas also gives you freedom to fly when it suits you with business class guaranteed on every flight, but with domestic-style reclining seats as opposed to a fully-flat bed.
Upsides: Put your feet up and relax with padded leg rests at the ready, while you’re also free to recline into a comfortable position.
Downsides: Aside from the lack of flatbeds, the Qantas international business class lounge in Melbourne is good without being great – lacking natural light and views of any description in most places –while the Auckland lounge has definitely seen better days, but is earmarked for an upgrade.
Price: From $1,701 return
AusBT review: Qantas Boeing 737 business class
4. Virgin Australia Boeing 737 business class
The Qantas competitor launched trans-Tasman business class around 18 months ago with flights from Melbourne timed perfectly for business: arriving by lunch time ahead of your same-day meetings.
Upsides: With just eight business class seats on every flight, the service here feels much more personalised than on some larger aircraft, with those in the second row able to recline without being in anybody’s way, courtesy of a sturdy bulkhead wall behind.
Downsides: Timings on return flights from Auckland to Melbourne aren’t ideal with a daily service pushing back at 6:30am (4:30am Sydney time). There’s an evening option too at 8:45pm, but it only runs twice per week – so on the other days, you’ll need to hop aboard Air NZ instead.
Price: From $1,696 return
AusBT review: Virgin Australia trans-Tasman business class
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