Kiwis will be strapping themselves in for one of the world’s longest scheduled passenger flights later this year, with Air New Zealand taking on the non-stop trek between Auckland and New York City from September 17.
Lasting up to 17½ hours, the journey is expected to fall shy of Singapore Airlines’ direct service connecting the Red Dot and the Big Apple, which currently holds the crown for the world’s longest flight.
And calendars will show the flight arriving 15 minutes after it takes off, leaving Auckland at 7:40pm and landing in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport at 7:55pm local time.
On the return, it will depart the Big Apple at 9:55pm and arrive into the City of Sails at 7:30am two days later.
Proudly bearing the flagship numbers NZ1 and NZ2, the 14,200km journey will be flown by a Boeing 787-9, with Business Premier class featuring fully lie-flat bed in a 1-1-1 layout.
Following a special inaugural flight on Saturday September 17, the marathon service will run every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
The Star Alliance airline originally planned for the Auckland-NYC marathon to take off back in October 2020, but plans were scuppered by the global spread of Covid-19. However, the bum-numbing route is firmly back on the map – and there’s a lot to get excited about.
The launch of the non-stop Auckland-New York service will give Air New Zealand a competitive edge over Qantas, with the Red Roo’s much-hyped Project Sunrise – which will also offer non-stop flights from Sydney to New York, as well as London and potentially Paris – now not expected to take off mid-2025.
On the back of the New York announcement, Paul McLean, General Manager Australia for Air New Zealand, also tells Executive Traveller the airline will also resume direct flights to Chicago and Houston in the fourth quarter of this year.
Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran says the flag-carrier is “thrilled to be able to offer our Australian customers more choice to get to North America, connecting onto our flagship Auckland – New York flights from our nine Australian ports.”
“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to make this ultra-long-haul service a reality. To ensure customers arrive in New York feeling refreshed, we’ve put a lot of thought into the onboard experience and teams are working around the clock to make sure this is a great flying experience.”
Route-specific changes have been introduced to help travellers cope with the long flight time, with Mr McLean revealing the introduction of “a sleep ritual for Business Premier customers, which sees the introduction of relaxing balms and sleepy teas and snacks.”
“For those needing help to unwind a little more, the airline will launch ‘Zentertainment’ on its inflight entertainment system to encourage a restful sleep. And before descent into Auckland, a brunch service including a classic Kiwi flat white coffee will be offered.”
“Zentertainment is part of our sleep proposition and includes meditation to help customers get a good night’s sleep – this will be available in all cabins.”
In New York, Air New Zealand’s business class passengers will be able to access the Lufthansa Business Class Lounge at Terminal 1, while high-flyers with Airpoints Gold or Elite status, or equivalent Star Alliance Gold status, will be ushered up to the more exclusive Lufthansa Senator Lounge on level two.