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 toÂ Air New Zealand’s new interior since they announced their Sky Couches almost a year ago (heck,Â 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.
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.
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.
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. Â 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.
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″.Â 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.
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.
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 haveÂ interestingÂ images on the wall, like a bookshelf andÂ chandelier. There are other neat additions like aÂ conciergeÂ 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 theÂ on-boardÂ 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 stayÂ on-boardÂ 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.
Air New Zealand has been doing some pretty cool things to show off. From almost naked flight attendants to a furry foul-mouth-suaveÂ puppetspokes-dude named Rico entertainingÂ us greatly. Now, they want you to entertain them by wearing an ugly holiday sweater. Oh come on, I bet you have one somewhere… check the back of your closet. If you don’t, check out your local thrift store they seem to always have a great selection. It is worth the effort, because if you find a winner sweater, you can be a winner in Air New Zealand’s Ugly Sweater Contest.
That’s right. All you have to do is put on an ugly sweater, take a photo and send it in. If your photo makes Air New Zealand laugh (and cringe), you and a guest might be heading to New Zealand.Â You have until December 31st to find give it your best. I am guessing that Rico’s parents might have a few sweaters he could borrow for the contest based on his recent photo, hurry and beat Rico. GOOD LUCK!
When an advertisement starts out with the statement, “WARNING: The following video contains language and themes of a sensitive nature. Viewer discretion is advised,” they get my full attention. When first checking out Air New Zealand new Rico ads about a month ago I wondered how they might out-do theirÂ videos of almost-naked employees.Â Well, I think they succeeded and have made me laugh in the process.
Enter Rico, Air New Zealand’s new spokesperson… err spokesquirrell, maybe spokesfuzzyguy, um, I am not really sure what he is. I do know he is unique, a bit rude and darn funny. He says things that no spokes person should ever say, but some how me makes it seem alright. According to his FaceBook he was born, “on plane between two country on international line of dates on June 6th and 7th 1972.” He states he likes to say he was born on the 6th since that was the same day, “David Bowwow release Ziggy Stardust recording.” Don’t tell Rico, but I have heard he was actually “born” at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in Los Angeles. This is the same place that brought you the much more clean-mouthed Muppet’s.
If you follow quite a few aviation blogs, this is probably not the first time you have seen Rico. He has been up to his shenanigans on the internet for a bit over a month. Since then, he has caused quite a stir around the interwebs. I have seen that most aviation geeks love him, some think he is disgusting and others just do not get it. I say, if an airline is able to make their marketing funny and creative enough to get people to write about them, that says something.
How can you not like this little fuzzy dude? Well, I think I like watching him on YouTube, not sure if I would want to sit next to him on Air New Zealand’s longest flight of 14hrs from Vancouver, BC to Auckland (ok, yea I would, but alcohol would need to be involved and I am not sharing a snuggle seat with him). I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to interview him and he made a funny video for me. I am not sure he 100% understood all my questions, but his answers made me laugh hard. Trying to answer what his favorite airplane to fly in should make any aviation geek smile!
If you haven’t seen Rico’s other videos, be sure to check them out. Just do me a favor and don’t listen to these at work 🙂
Would you want to hang out with Rico for a few hours? If you so dare, you can also follow Rico via his Facebook or Twitter accounts. He sounds like a worldÂ travelerÂ and hoping I can run into him someday.
The new Skycouch on Air New Zealand earn an Awesome Medal
Taking Economy Class to the next level, Air New Zealand announced their “Skycouch” for Economy Class on their Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
The new seat allows passengers to choose to extend the bottom cushion of their seats to the seats in front of them providing an amble bed to sleep on. This will work great if you are flying with a significant other, but might be a little awkward if with a complete stranger.
22 sets of the SkyCouch seats will be available and will cost about the same as two and a half non-Skycouch seats.
You might notice the window shapes in the background of the videos look very similar to the Boeing 787’s. That is because Air New Zealand was hoping to introduce the new seats on the 787, but went ahead with the 777 due to the Dreamliner’s delays.
Air New Zealand will start flying the new seats at the end of the year between Auckland and Los Angeles and hopes to expand into other markets in 2011 and 2012.
I think these seats are pretty awesome. So awesome that I am giving the seats my AWESOME MEDAL!
Other things Air New Zealand will be upgrading:
* New oven technology to cook food from scratch rather than just reheating
* Extensive new in-flight entertainment system using touch screens
* Wine tasting and destination seminars
* Slip-on pillows for headrests to remove need for neck cushions (economy)
* Flight Planner to know when meals, drinks etc will be served, lights dimmed etc.
* Shared-meal experiences such as pizza for two (Premier economy)
* On-demand food and beverage service (business class)
A while back I showed how Air New Zealand has nothing to hide. I think they liked the free feeling of not wearing any clothes, so they are at it again. Now their air safety video has nothing to hide either. Instead of the dry talking about emergency exits and how to fasten your seat belt, they show you the “bare essentials” to your aircraft’s safety.
All the humor aside, I think these creative video safety messages are a good idea. Even for those who travel a lot, it gets your attention and makes you think about safety again.
Ok, bringing the humor back, also make sure you check out the bloopers reel!