Flight test: Air New Zealand business class

Aircraft Air New Zealand A320-200.

Route Melbourne to Christchurch.

Class Business, seat 1B.

Seat configuration 2-2 for total of eight business-class seats.

Seat pitch and width 42 inches between rows of seats; 21 inches between armrests.

Luggage allowance 30 kilograms (Star Alliance gold customers can take an additional 20 kilograms). Also two pieces of hand luggage up to 7 kilograms.

Scheduled flight time 3 hrs, 20 mins.

On-time performance Heart-in-mouth as we approach Christchurch and captain announces there is heavy fog and fuel for only two attempted landings before diverting elsewhere. Some passengers are confident, saying Air NZ has advanced landing equipment. In fact, it has Required Navigation Performance (RNP), which enables pilots to fly at lower altitudes to reduce the impact of bad weather but it is currently used only on Queenstown flights. Our first approach fails but the second is successful. About 40 minutes late.

Lounge access Friday night in the pleasant Koru Lounge is standing room only, with many workers returning home to NZ for the weekend. Quality and cleanliness maintained. Good hot meals.

Aircraft condition Air NZ has 12 A320-200 aircraft in its fleet, introduced between 2003 and 2006. The only fault I can find is some scuffing on the bulkhead.

Console/entertainment The first row of business has 26.5-centimetre entertainment screens that flip out from the armrest and the second row has screens in the back of the seats. The on-demand system includes 50 new and recent-release movies. But somehow choice of "quality" movies seems limited. See airnewzealand.co.nz/on-the-plane/inflight-entertainment for latest line up.

Comfort Leg room feels massive. Seats recline 17.5 centimetres (economy 5 centimetres) and have adjustable winged headrest.

Service Chatty and attentive; drinks filled before you have to ask.

Food and beverage Cured salmon salad, NZ snapper on fennel, panna cotta and NZ white wine, of business-class standard.

Flight frequency Melbourne-Christchurch seven flights a week; Sydney-Christchurch 12 flights a week. Frequency increases later in year. Air NZ says business fares start from $1080 one way (economy from $218).

Photos Air New Zealand A320 Business Class

Online airnewzealand.com.

Tested by Robert Upe, who flew courtesy of Air New Zealand.