A Day In The Sky With Air Chathams, Whanganui
By Deb Alexander
Recently I was invited to enjoy the Air Chathams Whanganui-Auckland experience first-hand and it was a real treat. I was able to take my ten year old son along for the experience which totally made his day!
Air Chathams came to the rescue when the previous provider pulled out of Whanganui meaning this vital service could continue, keeping us Whanganui locals connected to Auckland (and Auckland connected to us!) Air Chathams are coming up to their first anniversary operating the Whanganui-Auckland service and the general feel around town is that locals are extremely happy that they can still fly to Auckland from their local airport.
Flying from my local airport was of massive appeal to me!
I love flying so much. I must confess that I am a bit of a geek when it comes to air travel. It had been ten long months since I last flew and in my eyes that was far too long between breathtaking views. So this invitation came at exactly the right time. In fact I get so excited about flying that I don’t sleep very well the night before. I love the whole experience of taking a flight and I get a little impatient if I have to endure a lengthy car ride before I get to board my flight.
I woke up, I was able to get ready at my own pace and it took me a little under ten minutes to drive to Whanganui Airport from my home. What’s not to love, seriously! Air Chathams make a great point on their billboards around town saying ‘Why drive south to fly north’. Exactly!
Whanganui Airport offers excellent service and a friendly face, a fabulous regional airport. I loved the fact that we could check–in face to face – there’s nothing like actually talking to a real person. Call me old fashioned but I think it adds to the experience of travel.
Coffee is essential to me and I always like to check in early so I have time to get my caffeine hit! South Beach Café is situated inside the terminal only meters from the check-in counter. In my opinion, South Beach Café is a hidden gem in Whanganui. The ladies at South Beach Café offer exceptional service and beautiful food. Try the breakfast muffin – it’s delicious and a great price! A wonderful array of cabinet & cooked food and great coffee. South Beach Café is open seven days a week. Whanganui Airport offers uninterrupted views of the runway. The outdoor viewing area is open to visitors so they can enjoy the activity around the airport and it’s also a great spot to take that all important plane photo!
Feeling relaxed and stress free, we boarded our Air Chathams flight. We were greeted by Flight Attendant Violet and were immediately made to feel welcome.
Violet was utterly professional & friendly and made everyone feel comfortable for the entire flight. She offered us water, tea & coffee and Tim Tams (yes, Tim Tams!) which I thought was a simple yet very nice touch indeed.
A lot of people that have used the Air Chathams service rave about the Tim Tams!
Nothing was an issue – I get the impression that customer service is paramount within the Air Chathams organisation and it really does show. Captain Nico & First Officer Adam ensured a smooth flight on the SAAB 340 to Auckland and we were treated to outstanding views of the Central Plateau on the way. Nothing beats flying within New Zealand, the views are second to none.
Before we knew it, it was time to land in Auckland – the flight time was 55 minutes.
The one thing that I keep hearing about Air Chathams is that the on-board service is nothing short of exceptional, I felt that the moment I stepped on-board.
Air Chathams offers three flights from Whanganui to Auckland on weekdays, two flights on Saturday & one flight on Sunday. Plenty of choices & times available which is great for all.
We had a few hours to kill at Auckland Airport so we were invited to have a bit of a look behind the scenes at the Air Chathams hangar. A big thank you must go to the Air Chathams staff who made us feel very welcome. It was awesome to have a closer look at some of the aircraft and hear a bit more about the company.
Air Chathams was established in 1984 offering a vital service for passengers & freight to mainland New Zealand from the Chatham Islands. These services continue to this day and people based in the Chatham Islands can enjoy regular flights to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. As I mentioned earlier flights to & from Whanganui started in August last year and Air Chathams also came to the rescue of Whakatane residents, reviving their service to Auckland as well. Air Chathams has enjoyed a long & proud history spanning more than thirty years, no one is more proud of this than owner Craig Emeny who has dedicated his life to the aviation industry.
Auckland Airport was absolutely bustling, I love people watching and enjoy the whole atmosphere very much and before we knew it, it was time for us check in for our return flight to Whanganui. As much as I love airports (and big cities) the idea of leaving it all behind and heading down the island for some quiet was of great appeal! I would imagine that for some Auckland locals, the thought of heading away for a weekend to somewhere a little less hectic is wonderful. Whanganui is a perfect choice for a getaway and Air Chathams can fly you right there (affordably so too)! Just think, in just an hour you could be enjoying a catch up with friends & family and exploring everything Whanganui has to offer. I can feel the stress starting to melt away just thinking about it! Whanganui offers a great relaxed lifestyle, affordable housing, beautiful scenery & countless things to see and do – a great choice for those who are thinking of making the move to regional New Zealand.
Air Chathams offers three flights from Auckland to Whanganui on weekdays, one flight on Saturday & two flights on Sunday. Plenty of choices & times available which is great for all.
We boarded our SAAB 340 flight and were met by Flight Attendant Vicki. It was nearly a full flight but that didn’t stop her from delivering exceptional customer service throughout the flight. We again got to enjoy those Tim Tams and the tea & coffee service. Captain Nico & First Officer Adam once again ensured a smooth flight with more amazing views for us to marvel at! This time we had exceptional views of Mount Taranaki to enjoy. The flight time was again 55 minutes and I enjoyed flying into Whanganui as I had never done so before. Whanganui really is beautiful from up above!
- There are three aircraft that come to Whanganui on a regular basis – the Convair 580 has 50 seats, the SAAB 340 has 32 seats and occasionally the 18 seater Metroliner will come to town too. Earlier this year, on Whanganui’s Vintage Weekend, the historic & immaculate DC3 aircraft came to town offering scenic flights over Whanganui which was hugely popular!
- Air Chathams offers an express luggage service free of charge which is perfect if you have a tight connection in Auckland or need to get somewhere in a hurry.
- There is a 23kg luggage allowance on all fares & the excess baggage charges are very reasonable.
- Air Chathams eliminates the need to travel to Palmerston North. Fly directly to Auckland and onto many domestic & international destinations.
- Fares start from only $59.
- The reservations team are available by phone seven days a week and are ready to help customers with the friendly service we have come to know and love.Air Chathams provides down to earth real kiwi service. Customer Service Manager Gray Tinley always goes over and above to ensure that Air Chathams customers are very well looked after. Owner Craig Emeny & son Duane are often seen flying to and from Whanganui and I think it’s great (and really important) that they are keeping connected with their customers.
We thoroughly enjoyed our Air Chathams experience and would do it again in a heartbeat. This service must continue and it’s important that us as Whanganui locals support it.
So if you are after an exceptional customer service experience, a reliable travel service and you want to save that pesky trip to Palmerston North then consider making your next booking with Air Chathams. Let’s all support Air Chathams and keep local airports alive!
From our destination to yours…