Flying from Brisbane to Auckland in business class? You may be surprised to learn that not two, but five airlines compete for your high flying dollar on this busy trans-Tasman route.
That list includes Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand, along with Emirates and even Taiwan-based China Airlines.
Australian Business Traveller ranks your business class choices between these two cities, while also revealing how much you'd pay for a return journey if flying in late November.
1. Emirates: Airbus A380
When jetting between Queensland and New Zealand, you really can't go wrong in business class aboard Emirates' flagship Airbus A380.
Upsides: This is just like any other Emirates A380 flight, with fully-flat beds and direct aisle access standard for every business class passenger – but the real hit is the inflight bar and lounge area, where you can mingle with a cocktail in-hand.
Before take-off, you can also board the aircraft directly from the dedicated Emirates Brisbane lounge without setting foot back out in the terminal, and if you're expected to remain productive up in the sky, you'll find 10MB of free inflight WiFi with an extra serve of 500MB available for just US$1.
Downsides: There really are no downsides here, except that to earn status credits in the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, you'll need to remember to book the Qantas (QF) codeshare flight number rather than booking directly with Emirates on an EK flight number.
Price: From $1,708 return
2. Air New Zealand: Boeing 777
Air New Zealand tempts travellers in also providing true international-grade business class across the pond, but only if you book the right flight...
Upsides: Book the daily flight NZ136 from Brisbane or NZ135 on the return and you'll snag Air NZ's Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, again with seats that transform into fully-flat beds and which each provide direct access to the aisle.
Air New Zealand's refurbished lounges in Brisbane and Auckland also aren't to be sniffed at, while Virgin Australia Velocity members can also earn points and status credits when flying with Air NZ (both on NZ and VA flight numbers).
Downsides: Air New Zealand also runs a second-daily Brisbane-Auckland flight using a smaller Airbus A320 aircraft (NZ734 and NZ739 on the return), but which has no business class seats whatsoever. That means you'll either need to be flexible with your schedule, take a downgrade on one leg or choose another airline.
An easy way to remember which flight is which is to note that Air NZ flight numbers beginning with '7' (eg. NZ734) only provide economy, while those beginning with '1' offer a business class cabin. This applies across other routes too, such as Sydney-Auckland.
Price: From $1,707 return
3. China Airlines: Airbus A330
Here's an option out of left field: SkyTeam alliance member China Airlines also flies between Brisbane and Auckland, running as a continuation of its Taipei-Brisbane service – but you can book only the trans-Tasman leg without trekking to Taiwan.
Upsides: You'll again find an international-standard business class product on board, but this time with 'sloping sleepers' in business class rather than fully-flat beds, and a 2-2-2 cabin layout which seats some travellers away from the aisle.
China Airlines' fare prices on this route also tend to be incredibly competitive, and in some cases comparable to what other airlines would charge for a flexible ticket back in economy class.
Downsides: With only four flights each week and no Australian alliance partners to help out, flexibility is key here – either by planning your meetings accordingly or considering other airline options on the days China Airlines doesn't fly.
Price: From $831 return – the lowest price of any airline
4. Qantas: Boeing 737
Let's be realistic: on a three-hour flight, flat beds in business class are more so a novelty than a necessity, which perhaps explains why Qantas instead runs its domestic-style Boeing 737s on this route with seats that merely recline, rather than turn flat.
Upsides: It's still easy to get comfortable here by pairing that recline with padded leg rests in your business class seat, with the Roo's schedule offering one daily service plus a second flight that runs five times per week.
Business class passengers can also relax in Brisbane's superb new Qantas international business class lounge before their flight (pictured), and while the Qantas lounge in Auckland isn't anything to write home about, passengers can opt for the Emirates Auckland lounge when it's open and has adequate space.
Downsides: There's not a great difference in fare prices between these flights and those with more international-grade seating, so it pays to consider all of your options before you book.
Price: From $1,708 return
5. Virgin Australia: Boeing 737
Another contender is home-grown Virgin Australia, also flying domestic-style Boeing 737s across the ditch.
Upsides: With only eight seats in business class, this is by far the cosiest pointy end choice – and if you select a seat in the second row, you can recline as far as possible without being bumped by anybody behind, courtesy of a bulkhead wall.
Despite Virgin Australia's recent shake-up to its international lounge access rules, passengers can continue to use the Air New Zealand lounges in both Brisbane and Auckland prior to these trans-Tasman flights.
Downsides: These seats do recline, but there's no leg rest, nor is there a fixed inflight entertainment system: you're instead handed a Samsung tablet to use with the aircraft's wireless inflight entertainment system, which can be difficult to balance at meal times.
Price: From $1,708 return
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