Auckland is a long way from anywhere, so if you're travelling anywhere outside of Oceania or the South Pacific you're guaranteed a long flight. Earlier this year Qatar Airways introduced a new flight from Auckland to Doha, running to an epic eighteen hour flight time and crossing 12 time zones.
The flight currently uses the Boeing 777-200LR, the only plane able to cover the 17,000 flight with sufficient fuel reserve for emergencies. Qatar splits the plane into seven rows of Business Class seats, laid out in three pairs of two seats; and 23 rows of economy class seats laid out in three groups of three seats.
The Business Class seats are quite impressive - unlike the pod arrangements used by other airlines and on other aircraft the seat itself forms the whole bed, with no use of a ledge under the seat in front to extend the length of the bed. The space between the seat rows is epic - the entertainment unit has a huge screen because its so far away that anything smaller would be unusable.
The seat is well padded and comfortable as both a chair and a bed - it needs to be though, you're going to be sat in it for a very long time. Every part of the seat is adjustable via a control panel, including the strength of the massage feature. The footrest can be raised and lowered independently of the rake angle, meaning that short or tall passengers can find a good position with support for the lower limbs.
Qatar offers business class passengers a totally á la carte dining experience. Choose anything from the menu as and when you want it. If you're travelling with older children you would be wise to check the menus in business class, fussy eaters may not be well served by a menu aimed at a business traveller. Younger children will probably need the children's meal.
Service from the Qatar flight crew was exemplary. It was no surprise to find out that Qatar was awarded the World's best airline by Skytrax just days before we flew.
Viewing the 777-200LR from the outside the size of the engines is the thing which most impresses itself on you and in-flight the noise of the engines is also very noticeable. Fortunately Qatar provides some very nice noise cancelling headphones for the flight and these turn out to be very effective indeed. If you're planning on using your own devices for entertainment make sure your headphones are noise cancelling too.
Power for those devices comes from a USB port in the seat armrest, close to the three plug headphone socket. Whilst this provided enough juice to power a phone it wasn't able to charge my Galaxy Tab S2.
The only other gripe was with the entertainment units themselves. A number of other passengers on our flight had their consoles 'crash' or lock up and needed to be reset by the flight crew before they could be used.
The eighteen hour journey turned out to be a relatively easy one for the passenger. It doesn't feel any longer than the twelve hour flight which links Auckland to other hubs like Singapore and Hong Kong; with the added bonus of reducing the length of your onward flight significantly.
Other than the usual jet lag we arrived in fine condition. How did my technology stand up to the journey? That's a whole different story - to follow.