Air NZ goes low-cost carrier with "seat only" domestic fares

By John Walton, November 28 2011
Air NZ goes low-cost carrier with

Air New Zealand is going low-cost carrier as its trans-Tasman "Seats to Suit" offering spreads to domestic fares, with entry fares losing checked luggage and being restricted to only 7kg of carry-on baggage.

From 29 November, the basic fare will lose 23kg of checked baggage allowance, and you'll have to stump up NZ$10 (A$8) extra if you want to bring a bag.

"As part of the introduction of Seats to Suit Domestic Air New Zealand has reviewed fares on all Domestic markets," the airline said today in an unpublicised email to travel agents, the day before the changes are set into place.

"On the vast majority of markets our lead-in fares will be reduced with the introduction of a Seat fare level," Air NZ promised.

The airline has not yet announced how the new pricing will affect Virgin Australia passengers connecting on Pacific Blue flights on the two airlines' trans-Tasman alliance network.

But it's not necessarily the marginal extra cost that will inconvenience business travellers. It's the extra hassles as the airline enforces the 7kg weight limit on hand luggage now that passengers will be trying to squeeze as much as possible into their cabin bags.

Much of Air New Zealand's domestic network uses small turboprop aircraft like the 68-seat ATR 72, 50-seat Bombardier Q300 and 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D -- which have significantly smaller overhead bins than larger jet planes, and none at all in the case of the Beechcraft.

There's barely space to put your knees on those tiny puddlejumpers, which serve key business routes for the mining, agricultural and viticulture sectors. 

So business travellers can also look forward to fighting for space with other passengers, having their laptop bags checked into the luggage hold, or cutting short productive time in the lounge to stand in a queue at the gate.


John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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