Earlier this month I flew around 7,000 Km (4,000 miles) from Auckland, New Zealand to Honolulu, Hawai’i, and returned a couple of weeks later. I’ve marked the two locations on the screenshot of a Google map.
New Zealand and Hawai’i are remarkably similar in many ways — the subject for another post — but as you can see, both are ‘in the middle’ of the Pacific Ocean, with only a few small islands between them.
The flight itself takes around 9 hours. For me the outward journey was during daytime. The photo shows what I saw for most of that time: ocean, with cloud. It was strangely fascinating.
I’ve had too much ‘input’ lately, and actually enjoyed the opportunity to just watch the clouds go by.
Our Boeing 767-300 though was equipped with in-flight in-seat entertainment. My seat, 30K, was in Economy class: I was definitely a little worse off than a sardine in a loosely packed can, but at least the 9 inch on-demand touch screen was mere centimetres from my face.
By the way: the link above takes you to Air New Zealand’s wonderful seat map page where you can find out about features of your seat before or after you fly.
The USB port beside the screen was also close enough that I could watch or listen to podcasts on my iPod while it was plugged in and receiving power.
The flight seemed to be off to a bad start while we were still on the runway. The captain was in the middle of his standard ‘welcome aboard’ announcement when suddenly the plane lost all power. Lights went out, the entertainment screens died, the intercom went silent. After a moment the lights and intercom were restored.
Later they explained the cut-off had been caused by some kind of surge while moving from ground power to plane power. One effect though was that they had to restart the entertainment consoles, repeatedly, to restore function. It was around half an hour before they were finally running properly again. Meanwhile we were asked to not touch the screens until they let us know the system was up and running again.
I snapped a shot with my iPhone that showed the consoles are Linux-based. The photo’s a bit out of focus, I’m afraid. Party that’s because I was unable to move far enough back for a clear shot.
After fooling around for a while with the entertainment system I concluded there were no movies or TV shows wanted to watch, no games I wanted to play. Instead I plugged my iPod into the USB port for power, and enjoyed some podcasts when I was bored with watching the clouds.
The dynamic map, though, was a great feature, once I found it. It showed our flight path, together with information such as altitude, flight speed, bearing, and distance. The photo here is a still from my new wee movie camera (details in another post), the Flip Mino. As we neared locations they would appear on screen. The photo shows we were flying near Noumea, Nadi, Papeete, Apia and Nuku’alofa as I took the shot.
So, in summary, if you’re flying anywhere soon, especially with AirNZ:
- Check the airline’s web page for a seating map that can tell you what features are available to you.
- If you have an iPod load it up with things to listen to or watch and carry it on board.
- Also carry on board a USB cable for charging your iPod. Plug it in to the USB slot next to the entertainment screen for charging.
- If you have in-seat entertainment look in the menus for the screens that show you where you’re flying. It took me a while to find that segment, as it was ‘hidden’ behind a name that sounded very boring and meaningless. That name was so bland it is no longer in my memory banks …