Business & Premium Classes

The Complete Guide to Air New Zealand Business Class

Scott Laird

Scott Laird

March 28, 2024

8 min read

Table of Contents

Air New Zealand is the national carrier of New Zealand, and the New Zealand government owns a majority stake in it. It is the primary airline serving New Zealand’s international and domestic air markets and is also a major player in the South Pacific, connecting several island nations to its network via Auckland. 

The airline has received several industry recognitions for quality, including The World’s Safest Airline from in 2024, Supreme Award at the World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo in 2023, and Cabin Concept of the Year by the Onboard Hospitality Awards in 2023. 

What to know about Air New Zealand business class

Air New Zealand offers Business Class–called Business Premier–on international flights from New Zealand. However, not every international flight has it–only those flights operated by Boeing 787-9 and 777-300ER aircraft have Business Premier. All flights from the United States are operated by these two aircraft, so all US-New Zealand flights offer Business Premier. Airbus A320 series aircraft on flights to Australia and the South Pacific do not have Business Premier cabins. 

On aircraft equipped with Business Premier, passengers can look forward to lie-flat seats and New Zealand cuisine, including New Zealand wines, and an international selection of films and tv shows on the onboard entertainment. 

Previous deals Going has found in Air New Zealand's business class: 

  • Los Angeles or San Francisco to Auckland for $3,951 roundtrip
  • Honolulu to Christchurch or Wellington for $3,814 roundtrip
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The Air New Zealand business class experience at the airport 

Air New Zealand business class lounge access

Air New Zealand lounge

Air New Zealand operates its own lounges, but only in New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and the Cook Islands. US-departing business class passengers will be directed to a lounge operated by a Star Alliance partner. At Houston Intercontinental and San Francisco, passengers have access to United’s Polaris Lounge. At Honolulu, it’s the United Club (which has slightly less elevated amenities than the Polaris Lounge). At Chicago O’Hare, it’s the SAS Business Lounge. At New York JFK, passengers are directed to the Lufthansa Lounge, and in Los Angeles, there’s one common lounge for all Star Alliance carriers. 

The Auckland lounge is understandably the network’s largest and has expansive seating areas (including loungers and fanciful bucket seats suspended from the ceiling), a media room where films are shown, and a children’s play area. There’s also a large hot food buffet and self-serve New Zealand wines. Cocktails can be poured on demand at the bar, and there’s also a barista serving up coffee drinks. 
The Auckland club also has shower suites for passengers to freshen up in after a long flight. 

Business class passengers are granted access to the lounges but cannot take guests unless they have elite status with Air New Zealand or a partner airline.


Business class passengers have a dedicated check-in space at each airport, generally as part of the main ticket counter. 

Baggage allowance 

Business class passengers can check up to three bags weighing 23 kilos (50 pounds) each. Passengers can carry on two bags totaling up to 14 kilos (30 pounds), but there’s also a weight limit on individual bags—neither of them can be more than 10 kilos (22 pounds). 

The Air New Zealand business class experience in the air

Air New Zealand’s business-class product was considered cutting-edge when it was first introduced two decades ago. The seats and cabin fittings have been well-maintained but are still starting to show their age–particularly as more modern seats have been introduced on competing airlines. 

Air New Zealand’s catering focuses on Kiwi cuisine, which emphasizes quality ingredients over quantity, although the airline’s menus will easily appeal to an international passenger complement. The airline’s flight attendants are also noted for being chatty, offering insights for visitors to their Pacific island home. 

Most flights from California and Houston are operated by the larger Boeing 777-300ER, while most flights from other US gateways are operated by the 787-9, although this fluctuates by season.

 Seats in Air New Zealand business class

Air New Zealand business class seats

  • Boeing 777-300ER
    • These aircraft are equipped with lie-flat leather seats in a 1-2-1 configuration that are angled toward the aisle. The seats have an ottoman that can be used as (admittedly tight) guest seating. Unlike many other lie-flat seats, the seat does not recline into a bed–—instead, the back of the seat folds forward to create a sleeping surface. Flight Attendants will turn down and make the beds for passengers upon request. Seats do not have individual air units. The 777-300 is used primarily on flights from California.
  • Boeing 777-367ER
    • Air New Zealand has taken delivery of an aircraft from Cathay Pacific which retains that airline’s interior configuration in a 1-2-1 configuration with seats angled away from the aisle. The six larger seats in the former First Class cabin are available to Business Premier passengers after booking for a seat upgrade fee. The aircraft was not reconfigured immediately because Air New Zealand has plans to overhaul its Business Premier product and will be introducing a similar premium seating option for Business Premier passengers. This aircraft is currently operated primarily from Houston to Auckland.
  • Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
    • The seats in the 787-9 Dreamliner are identical to those in the Boeing 777-300ER in a 1-1-1 configuration. On the right aisle of the aircraft, the seats face each other; on the left aisle of the aircraft, the seats face a row of seats facing the opposite direction behind a wall, so it feels less crowded than the other aisle. The 787-9 is primarily operated on flights to New Zealand from Honolulu, Vancouver, Chicago, and New York Kennedy.

Air New Zealand business class seat lie-flat


The Business Premier seat has an 11” touchscreen entertainment unit. Passengers can also use a handheld device to control the screen. The system features international and New Zealand movies and TV shows, but some travelers have described the system as focusing too heavily on New Zealand entertainment, with fewer options than systems on competing carriers. Passengers can preview available titles on Air New Zealand’s website prior to their flight.  

Amenity kits contain products from New Zealand’s Aotea skincare line, including a multipurpose soothing balm and a hand and body cream made in New Zealand from local ingredients inspired by Māori healing practices. 

Meals in Air New Zealand business class 

air New Zealand business class meal

Long-haul flights between New Zealand and the United States have two full meal services—dinner and breakfast. 

Dinner starts with an amuse bouche like a New Zealand smoked salmon with chive crème fraîche and bloody mary jelly, then a choice of breads with Hawke’s Bay extra virgin olive oil. 

There’s a choice of an appetizer or soup. 

There are typically three entrees: a seafood, a red meat, and a vegetarian dish to which a white meat like chicken can be added. Examples include: 

  • Lemon kelp dusted hāpuka whitefish with tomato and smoked mussel risotto, parsley, and lemon gremolata
  • Freekeh, chickpea, and roasted grape tabbouleh salad with goji berries, toasted walnuts, and pomegranate dressing with a choice of Za’atar spiced free-range roasted chicken breast or seared halloumi cheese
  • New Zealand lamb cooked two ways with seared zucchini and mint salsa verde with a choice of warm new potato and pea salad with garlic chives and horopito butter or cucumber and cherry tomato salad with chopped romaine and Dijon lemon vinaigrette 

Dinner closes out with a choice of sweet desserts, followed by a New Zealand cheese course. 

Between meals, there are packaged snacks in the galley, or passengers can ask flight attendants for a sandwich, which is listed on the printed menu. 

Passengers can advise flight attendants if they prefer to be awakened for breakfast. If they want to sleep in, they can still have a light breakfast of fresh fruit, overnight oats, a bakery basket (toast is an option), and a beverage. The full breakfast kicks off with a choice of smoothie or cold-pressed juice, followed by coffee or tea, and most widebody aircraft have espresso machines onboard. 

Main course for breakfast might include: 

  • Chorizo and agria potato hash cake with red pepper and tomato confit, scrambled eggs, and hollandaise
  • Tarragon, chive, and goat cheese omelet with sautéed potatoes and creamy mushrooms with optional add-on bacon
  • Brioche French toast with spiced Black Doris plums, lemon ricotta, and toasted almonds
  • Gourmet pretzel roll filled with pastrami, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut served with Thousand Island dressing

Portion sizes are smaller in New Zealand than in the United States, and Air New Zealand’s onboard meals reflect that. 

Alcohol in Air New Zealand's business class

wine service in Air New Zealand's business class

A standard selection of alcoholic beverages is included in Business Premier, including champagne and a rotating selection of New Zealand and international wines, soft drinks, coffee, tea, and spirits. Air New Zealand’s menus do not call out specific wines or spirits, so these selections can vary by flight and departure airport. 

How to book Air New Zealand business class

How much does it cost for a business class ticket on Air New Zealand? 

We found roundtrip fares from Los Angeles to Auckland from just under $7,500, but roundtrip fares in the $8,000-$9,000 range appear more typical across a broader range of dates. Going has found prices under $4,000 for members. 

How to upgrade to business class of Air New Zealand for free

Air New Zealand focuses on selling Business Premier seats instead of giving them away, but there are multiple ways to upgrade, from during the booking process, after purchasing the ticket, or via the OneUp bid upgrade process. Most reports online indicate the bidding for upgrades on most US routes starts around $700.

How much does it cost to upgrade to business class on Air New Zealand? 

Prior to departure, Air New Zealand sells upgrades for the fare difference between the fare paid and the current, higher Business Premier fare. Business Premier fares can be six to nine times higher than the lowest discounted economy fare.

How many miles to upgrade to Air New Zealand business class? 

Air New Zealand Airpoints members can use their Airpoints to upgrade to Business Premier at a fixed rate, ranging from 340 to 990 points on flights between New Zealand and the United States, based on the length of the flight. Members of Star Alliance member programs can also use miles to upgrade their Air New Zealand flight, but the number of fares that are eligible for this is very limited. 

Frequently asked questions about flying Air New Zealand business class

What does Air New Zealand business class include?
Air New Zealand business class includes priority check-in and baggage handling, lounge access, lie-flat seating, two hot meals, and alcoholic beverages.
Do you get lounge access with Air New Zealand business class?
Yes, business class passengers get lounge access at Air New Zealand’s limited number of operated lounges at most airports in New Zealand or the Pacific Islands and at partner lounges at other airports.
Do seats in Air New Zealand business class lie flat?
Yes, the seats in Air New Zealand's Business Premier class are lie-flat.
Is food served in business class on Air New Zealand?
Business Premier flights on Air New Zealand include a hot meal on shorter segments and two hot meals on longer segments.
How many checked bags do you get in Air New Zealand business class?
Business Class passengers on Air New Zealand can check up to three bags weighing 23 kilos (50 pounds) each. Passengers can carry on two bags totaling up to 14 kilos (30 pounds), but there’s also a weight limit on individual bags—neither of them can be more than 10 kilos (22 pounds).
What are the best seats in Air New Zealand business class?
The seats on the left side of the 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft are generally considered to be more private because the adjacent row of seats faces the other way and is separated from the aisle by a wall. On both aircraft types, seats in the middle of the cabin are quieter than those near the exits, where galleys and lavatories may be noisier.


Air New Zealand’s Business Premier product is an utterly Kiwi experience, but the seat configuration is beginning to show its age. Air New Zealand will be announcing a successor to the current product later in 2024. 

Compared to other airlines, it’s a matter of personal preference. Any of the carrier’s perceived detractors—a dated seat, lack of air vents, smaller entertainment selection—aren’t enough, collectively, to rate the airline any lower than their US-New Zealand competitors. A benefit of the Air New Zealand seat to competing seats is that the footrest points toward the aisle, rather than a footwell of varying sizes on competing airlines. Air New Zealand’s very Kiwi-focused catering could also be a draw for some travelers.

Overall, for New Zealand-bound travelers wanting an early immersion in the culture of their destination, Air New Zealand’s Business Class product is competitive, and the long flight times can make the premium fare worth it for the extra space alone.

Read more about flying in business class

Scott Laird

Scott Laird

Freelance Writer

Scott developed a passion for travel during frequent childhood trips between homes in Anchorage, Alaska, and Kaua'i. Currently Dallas-based, he's been writing about travel for the past 8 years and is a frequent contributor to TravelPulse, TravelAge West, TripSavvy, and Conde Nast Traveler. When not in Dallas, he can typically be found in Europe, on the US West Coast, Alaska, Hawai'i, or Tahiti.

Published March 28, 2024

Last updated March 28, 2024

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