I’ve been on a lot of flights in the last year. A lot. Only a handful of long haul, but I’ve been to Australia three times, the USA twice, South East Asia, and I’ve been making quite a lot of flights around New Zealand, most of them short hops.
Almost every flight has been with Air New Zealand, and eventually this starts to get recognised. In July I made it to Silver Class, which brings a few limited benefits. But look at what the Air New Zealand mPass app on my phone showed today:
New Tier Status: GOLD. Now I’ll get some worthwhile benefits. Lounge access, Priority check-in, Priority boarding, Priority waitlisting – now we’re talking! Priority check-in is irrelevant for Domestic flights, or even International originating from NZ. But Air New Zealand lines can be long in other countries.
There’s one other benefit which is particularly interesting to me – Fast Bag Tags. These are not just the usual ‘priority’ tags that everyone has. No, these are are special tags that apply to flights on turbo-prop planes. Rather than having to check your bags in, you can carry them out to the plane, hand them off just before you get on, then get them as soon as you get off the plane at the other end. This only works for the smaller regional flights, but it’s perfect for me, especially for all the short trips I make to Tauranga. I live relatively close to the airport, which means you tend to cut it fine when planning when to depart. You can’t afford any delays at checkin – now I don’t have to worry about that if I’m checking in a bag. I can turn up 15 mins before the plane leaves, swipe my phone to check in, and go straight to the plane. How good is that?
The flip-side to it all is that I’ve had a lot of time away from home, and a lot of early mornings and late nights. If you’ve only ever done casual travel, you don’t realise just how draining it can be doing business travel. Here’s an example: Recently I had full day of work in Christchurch. This meant getting up at 5 AM, departing the house at 6 AM, for a 6:50 flight. Work from 8:30 -> 6PM in Christchurch, then head to the airport and back home, getting home around 9PM. Shower, bed, up at 6AM the next day and back to the airport, off to somewhere else for a couple of days. I enjoy moving around, but it doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else.
At least now things will be just that little bit nicer at the airport.