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April 26, 2006

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WHERE'S JOHNNY JET?                                            LAX to Auckland, NZ

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Kia Ora! From that Maori greeting you know I am in New Zealand. How exciting is that?! If you want to come for the ride grab your camera and sense of adventure, because we are about to travel to Middle-earth and visit one of the most special, beautiful and crazy countries in the world. And weíre flying there in style!

Before we get started I want to alert you that just received a facelift! We still have all the same information, but now it's easier to navigate. This is still a work in project; we're redesigning other pages. Be sure to tell your family, friends and colleagues to sign up for our free Johnny Jetís Travel News, Tips and Stories newsletter -- and to use our links and search engines when booking travel.

Air New Zealand has made a nearly complete transformation in the past year. It begins for me with their brand new airport lounge at LAXís Terminal 2. Passengers in business class (Air NZ calls it Business Premier) can relax, check email, take a hot shower or have a tasty pre-flight snack before boarding. On the plane, Air New Zealandís friendly flight attendants sport new duds that are both modern and stylish. The best part about Air New Zealandís makeover is the new seat configurations in all three classes of service: Business Premier, Pacific Premium Economy and Pacific Economy. Pacific Premium Economy is similar to Virgin Mid Class seating. Both offer more leg room (39 to 40 inches), but Air NZ has wider seats (18.5 inches), a full leg rest and in-seat power ports. Pacific Economy is standard coach, but thereís a 34-inch seat pitch. And all economy seats have 8.4-inch high-resolution monitors with in-flight entertainment systems of over 780 hours of video content: movies, TV shows, music and video games. All this makes the 12-hour, 45-minute flight seem too short.

Fortunately, I was chilliní in one of Air New Zealandís state-of-the-art Business Premier seats. I didnít know what to expect when I first saw the strange seating configuration. All the seats are set up like individual pods, and are on a slight angle instead of facing forward like traditional seating. These comfortable 22-inch-wide leather seats might not make it easy for couples or families traveling together, but theyíre sure great for travelers who want their own personal space, either for working or a good nightís sleep. Each seat has a small ottoman that is used primarily as a footrest. It can also serve as a seat for another passenger to dine or work together, though without a back rest itís a little awkward.

Before takeoff flight attendants come around with pre-flight drinks and trays filled with individually wrapped eye masks, ear plugs, toothbrushes, tooth paste, lip balm and comfy socks. I grabbed one of each -- they increase your chances of having the best possible rest. After takeoff more drinks were served, including some of New Zealandís finest wines. A four-course dinner followed, with a menu full of New Zealand-inspired choices (designed by Govind Armstrong of Los Angelesí trendy Table 8 restaurant). The starter was a cress and frisee salad with duck prosciutto. Then came a choice of NZ lamb, seared cod with a Dungeness crab soup, or wood-roasted chicken breast with olive oil whipped potatoes. I chose the latter. I passed on the cheese and fruit plate, but there was no way Iíd turn down dessert: pineapple and strawberry ice cream! What a perfect way to get ready for bed.

When it was time for some shut-eye, the flight crew attentively came by and turned the seats into beds. Thatís right: These seats transform into a 6-foot, 7.5-inch flat bed. As soon as the flight attendant lay down a padded sheet, soft blanket and pillow I was ready to dive in. In fact, I slept the longest ever on a flight: a good 7 hours. I didnít even bother using the in-seat power port to plug in my laptop, eat the light snack or break out one of the many travel magazines I brought. Instead, when I was awake I watched TV on the 10.4-inch screen that came with noise-cancellation headphones. I could have watched a number of movies, including recent blockbusters or even the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But I opted for travel shows and "Two and a Half Men." (Note to Air NZ: One more pillow would have been perfect. Itís a little difficult to watch TV lying down). An hour before landing breakfast was served: a choice of creamy scrambled eggs with chives, or buttermilk pancakes. What an incredible way to travel! Air New Zealand definitely makes a long trip short. Good on ya! For reservations, click on or call 800-262-1234. Or call my buddy John DekkerÖ because he has NET fares to New Zealand, and will be happy to pass the savings on to you! 1-800-JOHNNYJET.

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Pictures From

The Trip




Hot Shower In Lounge


Flight Attendants


Business Premier Seats


Four-Course Dinner


Seats Turn Into Beds!


I Slept 7 Hours!




Auckland Runway


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