With more than 18 airlines ready to haul you from Auckland to London — via almost as many transfer points — it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and tempting to click the lowest price. Hold that trigger finger, mate! Just for you, we spill the [English breakfast] tea.
HOW MUCH SHOULD I EXPECT TO PAY? Prices typically range from $1700 to $2800 for Economy Class return flights. Expect to pay the least for travel from February to mid-June.
WHERE AM I HEADED? London, as you might know, is home to three major airports and a constellation of small ones. As anyone who’s wine-watched Love Actually will tell you, London Heathrow is the biggie and offers incredibly fast rail connections to Paddington. London Gatwick is sizeable as well, with an express train that’ll have you in Victoria Station in 30 minutes. London Stansted is the minnow, with rail service to central London taking about 45 minutes.
THE MOST POPULAR AIRLINES. These airlines are top of the heap for a reason. Kiwis consistently rate them and — the best bit — they’ll have you Thames-side in the shortest time possible. Which is still not that short.
Air New Zealand (12 hours flying Auckland to Los Angeles, then 10.5 hours to London – however note the LAX-LON sector ceases October 2020). Our local giant offers its own service — including scrumptious Premium Economy — all the way to Londontown. You’ll need to transfer in the USA, which is less than breezy. Touching down in Los Angeles requires getting a pre-approved ESTA (apply online), collecting checked bags, passing through immigration, doing security screenings, rechecking bags and spotting at least one celeb looking impossibly good while you wear wrinkled trackies. This might all be worth it, though, for the excellent inflight Kiwi service.
Emirates (16.5 hours flying Auckland to Dubai, then 8 hours to London). The Iron Lady of Longhaul, Emirates might be top in its class. Speaking of classes, you’ll find a lot of them onboard these massive planes. It might be worth considering that extra economy legroom — especially on the long ride to Dubai. Transferring in Dubai is easy as, and the airport dining options have seriously improved. Layovers are usually painlessly short, but if you’ve got time, there are complimentary shower facilities throughout for a real pick-me-up.
Qatar (17.5 hours flying Auckland to Doha, then 7 hours to London). Still sort of the new kid on the block, Qatar is getting great buzz for excellent service and easy transfers in Doha. High rollers, take note: The Business Class Q Suites offer some of the most private luxury flying experiences on the market.
Cathay Pacific (12 hours flying Auckland to Hong Kong, then 13 hours to London). Typically tempting price-wise, Cathay Pacific offers bare bones service — unless you spring for Premium Economy or throw a king’s ransom at Business Class. You’ll likely find more traditional Asian meals, like congee — which depending on your outlook, could be part of the adventure. Either way, Hong Kong Airport is consistently rated on of Asia’s best, and it’s an easy place to transfer with plenty of dining and shower facilities. We keep mentioning those, aye? We’re so subtle.
THE LESSER KNOWN CHOICES.
Don’t discount these airlines (that’s our job!), especially if you’re willing to look at lesser used flight paths.
Korean Air (12 hours flying Auckland to Seoul, then 12 hours to London). Competitively priced seats, a pleasant inflight experience and transfers at a less than hectic airport. Plus while in Seoul, there’s the chance for a cheeky serving of fried chicken, beer and complimentary night on the way.
China Southern (12 hours flying Auckland to Guangzhou, then 13 hours to London). Expect a good inflight experience with distinctly Chinese influences: Think plenty of noodles, unimpressive wine selections and tai chi videos before landing. On the plus side, Guangzhou is a seriously chilled airport with lots of local foods.
China Eastern (13 hours flying Auckland to Shanghai, then 12.5 hours to London). Comfortable and again, Chinese influences in the meal service. Shanghai is a quiet airport for transfers, but don’t expect much Western food: A Starbucks might be the extent of it. Want a splash of culture? Grab some coasters at the air-side Shanghai Museum Store.
Philippine Airlines (10 hours flying Auckland to Manila, then 14 hours to London). Expect a decent inflight experience in economy class, which this airline optimistically calls Fiesta, or throw your dollar bills at the extra 8 inches per seat in Mabuhay Class. This isn’t the nicest airport in Asia — in fact, we wouldn’t put it in the top 20 — but it gets the job done.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST? Listen mate, if we listed every option, this article would be hella long. Much like your flights to London. Thanks, we’ll be here all week.
Air Canada, Qantas and Virgin Australia are worth a mention, but they make the journey over three flights. On other words, you’ll make a bonus stop in Australia.
UGH. WHAT NOW? These flights are not that bad. Inflight entertainment is excellent: Perform a culture fast before and you’ll have heaps to watch. As always, a sleep mask is worth its weight in gold. And no matter what, London is waiting at the end.
Published: 18 February 2020. Written by Beth McLeod, Content Creative.