Air New Zealand's first Boeing 777-300ER (ZK-OKM) parked next to the Future of Flight at Paine Field

Air New Zealand's first Boeing 777-300ER (ZK-OKM) parked next to the Future of Flight at Paine Field

Yesterday was quite the amazing day. Air New Zealand took delivery of their first Boeing 777-300ER. Not only is this the first of five that Air New Zealand will take delivery on, this aircraft also showcases their new interior and new slightly updated livery.

Many different companies will hype something as being new and “the next best thing,” then when you actually see it, you are left feeling disappointed. I have been looking forward to Air New Zealand’s new interior since they announced their Sky Couches almost a year ago (heck, I even gave the seats an “Awesome Medal“). What better way to check out the new interior than catch the plane’s first flight with passengers? Air New Zealand was kind enough to invite me to their delivery ceremony (I will blog about the actual delivery in the future) and get a tour of the plane before taking a short flight down to Los Angeles (disclaimer: I did not pay for the Air New Zealand flight to LAX, but did pay for a flight back to Seattle).

The flight deck of the Boeing 777-300ER.

The flight deck of the Boeing 777-300ER.

This new interior was set to premier in Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, but due to the delays they decided to put the interior on their Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. When first walking on, you can tell it is different. Modern, clean, trendy and it smelled good. If you like that new car smell, you would love new airplane smell.

The best seats start at the front of the plane and work their way back. And when I say front, I mean the very front. The cockpit of the Boeing 777-300ER is very roomy and someplace I wouldn’t mind hanging out for a few hours. Although they might be best seats in the house, you aren’t able to buy your way into them (other than putting in the time to be a pilot).

These are the very roomy Business Select seats up front.

These are the very roomy Business Select seats up front.

The best seats you can actually pay for are located in the Business Premier section at the front of the plane. They have what you expect to see in a premium long haul international seat plus some. They provide a totally flat bed (with memory foam top), a cozy duvet, fluffy pillows, in-flight entertainment and a nice big table you can use to dine alone or with a guest on the small guest seat. The seats are tilted which can give you quite a bit of privacy, but they still allow you to have a conversation with those around you. I was lucky enough to be sitting in one of these seats on the delivery flight from Paine Field (PAE) to LAX and I have to say it was quite impressive (I am actually writing this at the seat right now with a laptop, food, paperwork, drink and camera on the table as well).

These are the clever Premium Economy seats at a slight angle.

These are the clever Premium Economy seats at a slight angle.

The next option is Premium Economy. Some American airlines might have “premium economy” where it is a standard economy seat with a few more inches of room or near the front of the plane. These are high-end seats that provide ample room and entertainment. The seats do not lie-flat, but it still wouldn’t stop someone from having a good rest.  The angle provides a good fit if you are traveling alone and want some privacy, but it is not enough to hinder two people flying together.

The very comfy Sky Couch seen enroute to LAX.

The very comfy Sky Couch seen enroute to LAX.

Who says that economy can’t be made fun? When heading farther back into the aircraft you come to black economy seats, but some of these seats are created better than the others. There are 20 sets of seats on the aircraft that can be transformed into a sky-couch. This is a great feat not only for Air New Zealand and Recaro (the company that designed them) but also the future of airline travel. Even though the couch provides a 5’1″ length, I was able to lay down and be quite comfortable at 6’1″. Lie-flat seats have been all the rage in First and Business Class seats for international airlines and Air New Zealand wanted to take it to the next level in economy. However, I plan to detail the Sky Couch seats in more detail in a future blog, since they deserve one.

This is economy class, where you will find the Sky Couch and standard economy seats.

This is economy class, where you will find the Sky Couch and standard economy seats.

If you do not get a Sky-Couch economy seat, do not worry, things still aren’t too shabby. The remainder of the seats are your standard economy seats. Each one still has their own in-flight entertainment screen, PC power and USB and iPod connections (all the seats on board do). You also get a nice little foot net to change up your seating position during those longs flights.

No matter where you are sitting, you are able to enjoy Air New Zealand’s new food options. All seats allow passengers to order food from their seat anytime during the flight. Meal service on your terms, not according to the clock. This Boeing 777-300ER is is the first aircraft to have induction ovens allowing the airline to offer more food choices for customers. Want your steak medium-rare? Sure thing (Well, Business Select are the only folks to get steak. But other classes do have other great food options). Since our flight was so short we weren’t able to experience the entire meal, but they did offer an array of high-end snacks like shrimp, duck and lamb. If the food served is any indication of the full meals, I am quite impressed.

Check out this window in the restroom.

Check out this window in the restroom.

The aircraft has nice little touches as well. In a few of the lavatories you will actually find a window to the outside. Nothing like seeing the terrain below as you do your business. If you do not want to look out the window, others have interesting images on the wall, like a bookshelf and chandelier. There are other neat additions like a concierge area (and there is a concierge on-board too) to help you find what to do when you arrive at your destination. If you have kids, they can enjoy story time with one of the on-board crew. Otherwise you have a great in-flight entertainment system with quite a few options — all free. Of course, I think one of the coolest features was the service (and that New Zealand accent).

The two hour flight to LAX was way too short. I would have loved to stay on-board and experience the luxury and near luxury treats for a full 13hr test flight down to Auckland. However, since it is close to the holidays I had to make my way back up to Seattle instead. I hope this is not the last time I come in contact with one of Air New Zealand’s Boeing 777-300ER’s.


* News video on the SkyCouch (at 0:48 you can see me as I wrote this blog and 1:30 a few words)
Photos and video of the Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER taking off from Paine Field

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Absolutely stunning pictures.

thomas barrett

Hi there great pictures ,I have book my self on this plane when it starts to fly the lax route Kia ora

Fantastic pics! I used to fly NZ between SYD and LAX when they did a direct service, wish theyd bring it back!
David, Im addicted to your site!


Ever heard of Spellcheck.. Check you banner, “”their”” is spelt incorrectly !!

Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t spell check the title and I obviously overlooked it. Corrected — thanks.


bit late reading this article, but would just like to say “POT-KETTLE-BLACK”
ref the spell-checker thing. It’s clear you didn’t use it either, otherwise you would of spotted YOUR own mistake, when you pointed out THEIRs

December 24, 2010 at 12:55 am · Reply
Ever heard of Spellcheck.. Check you banner, ””their”” is spelt incorrectly !!

J Hassett

Disappointing that they’re using 3-4-3 in Y. Had that on EK & it’s way too tight.

I have to agree the 3-4-3 layout is very cramped it should have been a 3-3-3 layout or a 2-5-2 layout like AA’s 777, but it is beautiful and im totally going to bee on this and im going to book a skycouch seat!! Its the future cabin of the 777. So really if your sitting in business or first class all your paying extra food and the extra space. If you sit in the skycouch it is like business class just the all the luxury!! I cant wait to fly on this!!

10 across in Y…..How charter like.No US major has 10 across in Y.Shows you what this airline thinks about the masses.Yee Haw!!!! Round em up and move em out!!!

Thanks for the isighnt. It brings light into the dark!

BTW…”Who says that economy can”t be made fun?”……Let’s vote on how many agree that 10 across vs standard 9 is FUN!?!?!?!?

I’d vote NO. Can’t imagine ANYONE liking 10 across!!! Can you?

Mele Kalikimaka & Hauoli Makahiki Hou!!!!

It’s better than 11? 🙂


You can see why us KIWI’S are the most innovative bunch on the planet! Again we are the small country with 4 million people changing the way we fly!

After flying most airlines in Asia, I can put my hand on my heart and tell you Air NZ is by far the best Airline I have flown on. I got engaged in Fiji and flew back home, had a bottle of wine and an annoucement on the plane.. what servce. My experience is, what you pay for is what you get.

Air New Zealand is actually replacing their Boeing 747-400 fleet with the Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft. The new type will go into service on the Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and London routes as soon as they are received. This is an end of an era for the Boeing 747-400 aircraft at Air New Zealand. It’s kind of bitter sweet.

Air New Zealand Virtual

Travelling to Japan from Auckland used to be in a Boeing 747-400, but these days, Air NZ finds have replaced the service with their 777-200 ERs. For the record, they have 6 747-400s, 8 777-200 ERs, and have 5 777-300 ERs and 8 787s on order.

For the record, Recaro did not design the Skycouch. It was entirely developed in-house by Air NZ and their design subsidary – Altitude, along with help from another New Zealand company, Formworks. Recaro engineered the finished design to fit to their exisiting 3510 economy seat frame.

They are using this plane on the route between Auckland and Melbourne at the moment and I had the pleasure of boarding this aircraft for my 3 1/2 hour flight back to Auckland a few days ago. It was only the 3rd flight the plane had done and it was the best flight I have ever had. I was seated in economy and I had companions traveling in premium economy and we all thoroughly enjoyed the flight. Excellent meal choices as they were showcasing their long haul meal service and all drinks were free no matter if you had just purchased a seat or gone for the works – I had a yummy beef burger. I would definitely recommend this aircraft (and koru club members can purchase premium economy seats at no extra cost!)
A fantastic aircraft!!

You bet they had a big party when the plane arrived in NZ! According to Jacqueline Smith, there isn’t enough room in the cattle class to use a laptop properly or to even move past fellow travellers. (Jacqueline Smith: The drawbacks of new comforts (NZ Herald))

ohmyGOSHNESS cant wait to go to samoa on these AWESOME planes excited !!!

Richard D

For the record, it’s Buisness Premier not Buisness Select.
Richard D

Just flew from Melbourne to LA via New Zealand in economy on the 777-300. True the staff are helpful, but this is no trade off for very tight seating on a completely sold out flight!! ANZ is now on the bottom of my list and there is no way I would put myself through this ordeal again. From the moment you try to wheel your carry on down the aisle, you will realize that the aisles are extremely narrow because although other airline carriers use this same craft in a 3-3-3 arrangement, Air New Zealand has squeezed in another seat to create the 3-4-3 layout and hence capitalize on every dollar possible. To top this off the seats are not only narrow, but the rows in economy are jammed really close to each other, so that when the person in front puts their seats back you have them just a few inches from your face!! Spare yourself the aggravation and fly any other airline!

David W

Can anyone tell me please if the new 777-300 allows you to plug your laptop under the seats using a USA plug ???? Thanks for any help/advice you may have…

What class are you flying in?


A simple and inngilleett point, well made. Thanks!

David W

We will be in a skycouch seat (economy)

Then you should be good.

I always check out — normally pretty accurate.

Enjoy the flight :)!


David W

Thanks so much, cheers!!

Daniel Sombu Lumbantoruan

Very nice info and Pictures
Hi all ,
do you have any more pictures?
thank you all regards from Jakarta-Indonesia

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