From January 2022 it should again be possible to take a superjumbo jaunt between Sydney and Christchurch in the comfort of international-grade business class seat or even the indulgence of a first class suite.
That's the 'glass half full' take on Emirates' decision to push back the restart of its Dubai-Sydney-Christchurch Airbus A380 service from 31 October 2021 to 1 January 2022 – and after 18+ months of COVID putting the brakes on travel, we're all for some optimism.
Not that further schedule changes by the Gulf carrier can be ruled out, considering the pandemic remains a moving target, and the New Zealand government would need to approve travel from Sydney on a flight that's come in from Dubai.
But as worldwide vaccination rates climb and countries begin to reopen their borders, 2022 looks to be the year that things begin returning to normal in a slow but steady post-COVID climb.
Making the trans-Tasman hop on an Emirates A380 used to be all the rage many years ago, especially on the Sydney-Auckland route, until the Qantas partner wound back these 'tag' flights which added a second NZ leg to selected flights between Dubai and Australia's east coast cities.
Qantas and Air New Zealand offer a mish-mash of aircraft types between Sydney and Christchurch.
Qantas typically flies the single-aisle Boeing 737s with domestic business class seats, and sometimes Airbus A330s with its superior Business Suite, while Air New Zealand favours its all-economy Airbus A320neo.
But if you stump for Emirates' Airbus A380 flights, this is what you can expect in business class: a comfortable seat which can lie fully flat if you're so inclined; direct access to the aisle; plenty of personal space around you; a large video screen packed with movies and TV shows; and even your very own mini-bar.
That said, after enjoying a proper international-grade business class meal, you might make a beeline for the cocktail bar at the rear of the upper deck to enjoy a drink, some nibbles and the company of your fellow high flyers.
Want to really splurge? Book yourself into one of the 14 private first class suites – and don't forget to sample the delights of a shower at 30,000 feet.
Yes, it's an insane indulgence for a flight that's barely three hours from start to finish, but this adds to the appeal if you're looking to celebrate a special occasion with your partner or simply to treat yourself.
(Note that this A380 doesn't offer Emirates' new premium economy cabin, which at the time of writing is found only on a handful of the airline's superjumbos.)
Emirates' timetable shows EK412 departing from Sydney at 8.45am to reach Christchurch as 2pm.
As a bonus, if you hold Platinum status with the Emirates Skywards or Qantas Frequent Flyer rewards programs, you can spend the hours ahead of your flight at Qantas' superb Sydney first class lounge.
The EK413 return leg is wheels up from Christchurch at 6.45pm, arriving into Sydney at 8.05pm.
These Sydney-Christchurch legs can be booked on Emirates' own website with fares typically on par with the market, but once Qantas resumes its codesharing partnership with Emirates – an arrangement currently suspended, seeing that easy international travel is out of reach – then you'll be able to book these Emirates flights using Qantas Points.