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    Business Traveller Questions

    These were a series of questions sent to me through Alexander Communications regarding my business travel experiences.

    This is due to be published in The Independent next week.

    What are the best/worst airports – and why?
    Auckland – based on the fact that I know it; the short-cuts, check-in counters and Customs.  Delhi airport is the worst – there is no APEC; it’s ciaos as you come through and baggage takes at least half an hour.  I do know however that they are building a new airport which is understood to be the biggest in the world, hence why it probably isn’t so great now.

    What is the best/worst hotel/accommodation – and why?
    The Westin in Shanghai.  It’s centrally located but one of the few hotels that actually has an area around it, which is unusual in such a heavily populated city.

    Your best/worst hotel experience? (eg. Did you ever get stuck in a lift for 12 hours, or find your hotel was actually a brothel, or have your best wool suit shrunk by the laundry service?)
    The worst hotel was a capsule hotel I had to stay in because of a plan diversion into Hong Kong. A very unusual experience – I probably know how a morgue feels.  It had a very claustrophobic feeling to it.

    Best/worst airline for service – and why?
    Emirates.  The feeling is very calm on their flights; unobtrusive service and they seem to rely on the passenger to be the best judge of their behaviour.
    The worst airline is Dragon Air.  Two reasons for me personally; firstly, I don’t understand Chinese and secondly the age of their planes seemed to be more dated than most other airlines.

    Which is the best airline on the Tasman (NZ-Australia) route?
    Air New Zealand is the best airline for the Tasman.  They have a number of services which makes flying easier and the process quicker.  They have very much lifted their processing points across the Tasman route to now be the best.

    Which domestic airline do you rate best?
    Air New Zealand is the best domestic airline.  The introduction of the e-tag Fast Bag and their valet parking services takes them to the top of the list.

    Top tip for arriving fresh and ready to go on long-haul flights – or for avoiding meltdown later in the week if you are flying to Australia and back in a day
    A top tip on long-haul flights is to set your watch to the destination time straight away and begin to act in the time zone you are going to. To avoid a meltdown if travelling to Australia in one day I would recommend you turn left instead of right when you board.

    Favourite New Zealand destination – and why? Which destination do you hate most?
    The Southern Lakes region.  The scenery is spectacular, it’s always a welcoming destination and there is a definite sense they understand the travelling process.  There is probably not a destination that I hate as such.  The more difficult destinations are those that are remote which tend to be on the extreme East Coast and extreme West Coast – you can’t link your travel.

    Favourite international destination – and why? And which one do you hate most?
    Shanghai simply because of the diversification in culture, the transformation of the city over the last 15 years, the defining points between the old and the new, and the world-class financial district.  Again, I don’t hate any locations as such but Delhi would rank as being the most difficult just because of the sheer number of people and lack of infrastructure.  You need to be patient as it takes time to get from place to place and that ultimately puts pressure on you as a business traveller.

    Favourite New Zealand bar/eatery?
    Home.  I also like Orbit because of the view of Auckland.

    Favourite overseas bar/eatery?
    On the Huangpu River in Shanghai there is an area called 3 On The Bun.  This is an extraordinary experience of different places to eat. There is an eatery called Slice which is a teppanyaki experience.  Right next door to this is a brewery (see photo) where they actually pour the beers from the vat and I had never seen such a large range of beers before.

    Worst/most interesting meal(s)/food you’ve had on an overseas trip (did you enjoy fried grasshoppers, or find yourself next to the cast of Friends, or have to get through a 6-hour, 12-course Asian banquet after a 24-hour flight)
    The most interesting experience of a meal was in a restaurant called The Black Cafe in Shanghai.  It is run by blind people and you order downstairs and then go upstairs into a completely black room.  You cannot see anything and you are led to your table.   It is so you experience life (in a short window) as a blind person.  You can’t see the food they serve you and you end up eating with your hands.  You are aware that there are people around you but you can’t see them.  It is the most unusual experience.

    Packing tips – anything unusual/useful you pack that you’d recommend other people take?
    I always have a toiletries bag that is permanently left in my bag together with power leads then I never have to worry about those.  I also have a copy of my passport and a copy of my credit card numbers.

    Do you work on the plane? – Why/ why not?
    Depends on the length of the trip but it is a good time to completely clean out emails and to also work on bigger thinking projects.

    What are the best/worst aspects of long-haul flights?
    The best aspect is being able to watch a movie which I rarely do and the other one is having a longer period to be able to read. 

    What is the most interesting/horrifying/dramatic thing that’s ever happened to you on a flight?
    I was on a flight where the plane was diverted due to cyclonic conditions going into Hong Kong – I was quite nervous.  The only other one was when I was flying to Tauranga and they couldn’t get the landing gear down.  It was quite a small plane but eventually they did get it to work which was quite a relief at the time.

    Most interesting/horrific fellow passenger/person sitting next to you on a flight?
    There was one guy on a long-haul flight who kept his light on because he was scared of the dark.  This was both interesting and horrific.  People who snore are a problem.  The only other one was during a flight to Sydney we landed and there was a potential H1N1 passenger at the back of the plane and we were quarantined for 5 hours.  Fortunately I wasn’t sitting next to them.

    If you didn’t live in New Zealand, where in the world would you choose to live – and why?
    Sydney.  It’s a world class city now.  I also have a number of friends and family in Sydney.

    Best travel experience?
    My honeymoon on Waiheke.  We rented a small batch right on the beachfront in Palm Beach. The weather was great, there was plenty to do and the location was perfect.

    Worst travel experience?
    I had missed a flight between Auckland and Gisborne and had to do auctions.  The only way was to get a flight to Napier which landed at 10am and the auctions in Gisborne started at 12noon.  It was a 2 hour 15 minute drive.  Unfortunately they only had a Ford Focus available.  I won’t tell you what time I arrived but the Ford Focus seemed to be a bit overheated.

    Any tips for getting upgraded? Any good upgrade stories?
    I think upgrades are a thing of the past.  Airlines have a more defining relationship with their passengers now and it seems that upgrades occur from time-to-time but that is usually when the flight is overbooked more than any requests you can make.

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