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.
CHECK OUT ALL 102 PHOTOS FROM THE DELIVERY FLIGHT
* 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
Eva Air Boeing 777-300ER (B-16715) about ready to take off from Paine Field on its delivery flight on Sunday.
Back in July I looked into why three brand new Eva Air Boeing 777’s were just sitting at Paine Field. It turned out they had issues with their Koito seats. Well, “issues” might be an understatement. Turns out not only were the seat’s safety in question, but also Koito’s certification process. So much so there was talk of an air worthiness directive from the FAA to ban the seats in the US.
Boeing and Eva Air has been silent with how these three Boeing 777’s were going to get seats. Last week the aircraft, which has been parked next to the Paine Field tower for months, were moved, prepped and started to take customer test flights (photoÂ of B-16717). Then yesterday, the first of the three Boeing 777’s took its delivery flight toÂ Taiwan (photo). Of course, the big question was what seats are inside the aircraft?
Eva Air obviously doesn’t want to say too much since I am guessing they will take legal action against Koito. Boeing has been staying pretty quiet as well, since they have a policy not to discuss their customers. However, I have been able to confirm that the seats in the aircraft are from Koito.
Beverly Holland with Boeing Communications explained to me that, “Koito Industries works directly with our airline customers. Ever since this issue came to our attention, we have been working closely with our customers who have purchased the seats to make sure the seats are fully compliant to Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) and FAA regulations.”
As reported previously, if the JCAB certifies a seat, the FAA also certifies them through a US/Japan bilateral agreement.Â Boeing has had a team in Japan helping to make sure the seats are able to become certified. Holland did confirm, “Boeing is committed to helping our customers through this situation.”
Speaking with an Eva PR consultant Mary Graybill, she confirmed that the airline is working with Koito and Boeing to have the seats installed at Paine Field. She wasn’t able to confirm when the aircraft will officially be delivered, but did say that, “all three will be used to serveÂ long-haul and regional routes, in rotation with the B777s EVA is already operating.” By chance of luck, I was at Paine Field on Sunday when I got an email alert stating a Boeing 777 filed a flight plan. Turned out to be one of the Eva Air Boeing 777’s (B-16715) being picked up by Eva pilots and flown toÂ Taiwan. Due to heavy fog, the flight was delayed, but did take off at 2:35pm.
So are the seats safe in the Eva Boeing 777’s? Yes, I think so. Even though Boeing and Eva won’t talk much about what they have done, I would assume that neither would allow the airplanes to transport passengers if they haven’t verified the safety of the seats.Â It is great for Eva to make money using these Boeing 777’s, but it isÂ disappointingÂ they won’t be parked at Paine Field to spot anymore. At least Paine Field is quickly filling up with other Boeing airplanes to provide plenty of eye candy.
VIDEO OF EVA AIR BOEING 777-300ER (B-16715) on DELIVERY FLIGHT FROM PAINE FIELD taken from the Future of Flight’s Strato Deck
* My photos from Eva Air Boeing 777 delivery flight
* Video from Liz Matzelle on the Boeing 777 taking off
ANA Boeing 777-300ER (JA781A) at Narita after my 11hr flight from LAX.
Flying in any airline’s Business Class is always a nice treat. There are some airlines with pretty decent domestic Business Classes out there, but to really have a top-notch experience, you need to take an international flight. Recently, when I flew from Los Angeles (LAX) to Narita Airport (NRT) in Japan, I was able to fly in All Nippon Airway’s (ANA) Business Class (disclaimer: ANA picked up the tab on my flight from LAX-NRT-LAX).
The benefits of flying in a premium seat starts at the airport. After arriving at LAX from Seattle I checked in for ANA and then it was time to hit security. Having a premium seat meant I was able to use the express TSA line. It wasn’t too much of a benefit for this flight since the express line only had two people in it, and the normal line had five — oh well.
After taking off my shoes and having my toothpaste scanned, I headed right to ANA’s Business Lounge. Unfortunately due to a bunch of construction going on at LAX, the view wasn’t the best, but I was able to watch a Qantas Airbus A380 get towed, so I was happy. There was plenty of space, free wi-fi and all the amenities you would expect to find in a Business Class lounge. This was good, since I had a nice 3.5hr layover in LAX.
Lots of room to work, sleep and play in ANA's Business Class. Click for larger.
From the lounge I could see when my ANA Boeing 777-300ER arrived and I headed down to the gate. This is where I had another bonus: being able to board first. The Boeing 777 I flew had First Class, quite a bit of Business Class, Premium Economy and then of course standard economy. Getting on the plane first to get settled for a 11hr flight is always nice.
Where most airlines have a rule that you can still use your electronic devices until they close the cabin door, ANA is much more strict. When I first walked into the plane I was told I had to shut off my phone. I then I tried to take some photos, but was politely told I couldn’t have my camera on either until we reached 10,000 feet. Eh, lame, but what can I do?
The seats were very spacious; there was 63″ of seat pitch and 21″ of width. There were only 7 seats across in a 2-3-2 configuration and of course I went for a window seat (photo). Unfortunately my original seat was 11A which had a dead space with only one window. Luckily, after the plane boarded, I was able to move back to 12A with all my windows. This was important since the flight was leaving at about 1pm and we would be racing the sun all the way to Japan — meaning it was going to stay light the whole flight.
One of three appitizers for one of my three course meals. Yes that is a whole fish you see (and I ate it).
After take off the flight attendants came around asking what we would like for our first meal. Boy did we have good choices: two Japanese meals and one Western-style. I didn’t know what half the food was, but I went for seared bass (photo) and whatever else came with the Japanese meal. There was a lot, a whole three courses worth of food. The food was fabulous and not like airline-food fabulous, but actual food in a nice restaurant fabulous.
While eating, it was time to start watching the in-flight entertainment. Each person has their own screen that folds out of the seat with a handy controller. There were quite a few pre-programmed movies and shows which are all free (even in economy), but I think the entertainment option was a weak spot for ANA. In the long run getting satellite internet and live TV would be great, but ANA did work with Boeing’s Connexion that provided satellite internet, but that didn’t work out. I am hoping in the future ANA and more international airlines will be adding internet and live TV. For the short term maybe a few more movie and television choices would have been nice. After flying 22hrs in total (there and back) I was quite done with my movie selections and I was NOT about to watch Sex and the City 1 and 2.
Flying, blogging, drinking and watching a movie. What else do I need? (anyone guess that movie?).
The seats were very comfortable and were quite adjustable (photo). They don’t lie totally flat, but they came pretty darn close. Talking to folks who are a bit shorter (I am 6’1″), some said they have had issues sliding down on the seat, but I did not. I was actually able to fit on the seat comfortably and got some real sleep on both flights.
Not only was the product very good, but the service was wonderful as well. They would constantly check up on me and always had a smile. The flight attendant’s faces must have hurt after smiling so bit, non-stop for the entire 11 hour flight.
Although ANA’s “old” Business Class product I tried out was quite good, they are introducing a newer and better pod-style Business Class on their new Boeing 777-300ER’s.
All this great product and service comes at a price. A Business Class Seat on ANA from LAX to NRT can cost $4000.00 plus. Of course many folks flying in Business Class either have a corporate credit card paying or are using their miles. If the Business Class isn’t enough for you, ANA’s also has First Class on many of their international flights which is a whole other experience. No matter what class I am in, I am always excited to take a flight halfway around the world.
MORE PHOTOS OF THE FLIGHT