Review: Air New Zealand Q300, Blenheim -Auckland


The travel plans today had us travelling from Blenheim, New Zealand to Papeete, French Polynesia with a connection in Auckland. We had purchased a one way ticket to Papeete, in order to connect up to an American Airlines AAdvantage Award ticket from Papeete – Los Angeles – Seattle – Vancouver. Our first flight of the day would have us on a smaller Q300, before our international segment to French Polynesia.

This post is one chapter on our trip to Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia. This trip was redeemed through Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage frequent flier programs and enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: Air New Zealand Q300, Auckland – Blenheim

We had a very early 3:45 AM wake up for our flights to Papeete, French Polynesia. I had to do a bit of research to find out when the check in cut off was for Air New Zealand and it seemed to be 30 minutes for domestic flights, but 60 minutes for domestic flights that were connecting to an international one. I tried to check in on line, but since we were traveling on a one way ticket (we were on a separate AAdvantage award ticket onwards home from Papeete), the computer was unable to check us in with no proof of return ticket. Playing it safe these days, we opted to arrive to the airport at 4:45 AM to address any perceived issues.

We departed the enjoyable Marlborough Vintners Hotel and drove the 10 minutes up the road to the Woodbourne, Blenheim airport.

It was pretty deserted at this hour and we were welcomed by Air New Zealand staff as the first traveler arrivals of the day. The plane was parked here over night, along with another Dash 8- 300 on the apron scheduled with a 7 AM departure for Wellington.

Arriving to the Marlborough Blenheim Woodbourne Airport
A Dark and Empty Departures Hall at 4:50 AM

Checking into Air New Zealand:

We checked in at the Air New Zealand counters. The friendly staff validated our tickets and took careful detail of our onward travel details. Our checked bags were accepted through to Papeete, meaning that we didn’t have to collect them at the separate Auckland Domestic Terminal building and transfer them over to the Auckland International Terminal building. We also got our boarding cards for our international segments.

Air New Zealand Check In Counters

The Blenheim Woodbourne airport coffee shop “CPR” did not open until 5:30AM, and I spent the last of our hard New Zealand cash currency on a Flat White and an Americano. There was no security screening on domestic travel on this segment. As a result, I was able to check us in, get a coffee, then run back outside to return the Thrifty Rental Car by leaving keys in the drop slot, then come back inside ready to board the flight. I actually almost forgot the rental car return process as I discovered the keys to the car in my pocket while I was waiting for the coffees; a sign of early morning flights and my old age.

The boarding call was at 5:45 AM and our plane was promptly boarded in about 5 minutes. There seemed to be a lot of young families that were traveling back to Auckland this Monday morning.

Limited Flights on the Flight Board this Morning
Our Air New Zealand Q300 taking us to Auckland
Air New Zealand
Operated by Air Nelson / New Zealand Link
Economy Class (V)
BHE-AKL (Blenheim – Auckland)
NZ 8202
June 12, 2017
Booked: Bombardier Q300
Flown: Bombardier Q300
Departure: 6:00 AM
Arrival: 7:30 AM

On Board Air New Zealand:

The Air New Zealand Q300 is pretty standard propeller plane fare. It offers a 2 – 2 configuration in a single class of service cabin. Once on board, we settled into our seats on the right hand side of the cabin.

We were able to get our rolling suitcases under the seats without issue. As we got underway, there were no taxi ways at the Blenheim airport so we headed out down the runway with a U turn at the end before we departed in a northward direction.

Food and Beverage:

There was a coffee / tea and water service by our lone flight attendant. A small cookie was also brought around. Thanks to the early morning hour, I spent most of the flight nodding off to sleep as we traveled North towards Auckland.

A Light Cookie as a Snack

We did have some beautiful sunrise views as the day started as we motored along to Auckland.

View from the Wing: Morning Sunrise over the North Island of New Zealand

Our pilot made great time and we were able to land in Auckland about twenty minutes early.

We rolled up for the domestic terminal and ended up at Gate 42. We were among the first off and set out for our domestic to international connection at Auckland.

My Thoughts on Air New Zealand Regional Service:

Similar to our inbound flight, it was a pretty straight forward regional service from Blenheim to Auckland. We had a small cookie as food and beverage; a small something but nothing to get very excited about. The Air New Zealand staff were pleasant to interact with, despite the early morning hour; setting the tone for a great trip up to Papeete, French Polynesia.

If you regularly travel on Air New Zealand Regional flights, do you find the staff friendly and cheerful ?

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