On demand food and beverage options, an extensive new inflight entertainment system and even wine tasting and destination seminars will set the new benchmark for long haul travel.

"For three years a dedicated group of Air New Zealanders, with the assistance of leading industrial designers, international design company IDEO, some of our top kiwi boat builders, Boeing and seat manufacturers, have been focused on creating a new experience that will influence cabin design for the next decade," says Air New Zealand Group General Manager International Airline Ed Sims.

"Our ultimate goal, after extensive customer research, is to give passengers what they want, which is to give them back choice and control of their journey. While our current long haul product is already considered world class, we weren't prepared to settle for off the shelf equipment as it wasn't going to deliver what we wanted for our customers.

"As a result, we've created a range of new interior design items not seen before on aircraft. This includes large items like the new Economy Skycouch which was designed by Air New Zealanders, as is the Premium Economy Spaceseat. Both have been licensed to manufacturers Recaro and Contour respectively and have the potential to generate significant license fees for Air New Zealand in the future."

Mr Sims says Air New Zealand's design ideas also extend to small but significant comfort innovations. A slip on pillow will go over the winged headrest in Economy to eliminate the nuisance of pillows always falling down and removing the need for neck cushions.

"We've even created a new foot bean bag style cushion affectionately called Otto. It enables Premium Economy passengers to create their own position for sleeping rather than being restrained by an uncomfortable, stiff leg rest."

As well as the new seating and hardware, Air New Zealand has completely overhauled its inflight service.

Critical to the service improvements is the Panasonic eX2 inflight entertainment touch screen system the airline has chosen, the same as it uses in its Boeing 767 and Airbus A320 fleets.

"However, we've broken the mould here too, and in an industry first we've created our own suite of interactive products to help deliver the experience we're looking for," says Mr Sims.

"This includes the ability for passengers to order food and beverage items when they want outside of main meal times."

To deliver the new food experience, new oven technology will be installed in the five galleys throughout the aircraft.

"It means we will be able to offer previously unheard of meal options inflight – real crispy bacon and eggs or a steak cooked anyway you like it in Business Premier, a pizza or tapas to share with your companion in Premium Economy or even a classic Kiwi toasted sandwich!"

Other technical developments include the ability to synchronise your viewing and listening IFE content to those you're travelling with, and Flight Planner – a visual guide on the IFE that lets you know when meals will be served, when snacks and drinks will be available for order and timings for when the lights will be dimmed and other activity is timed to take place.

The new interior colour scheme includes chalk covered leather seats in the premium cabins, a colour normally reserved for private jets.

"The colour scheme is very luxurious and together with our new-look uniforms will add the finishing touch to a sensational inflight experience," says Mr Sims.

"Areas like galleys and bathrooms have long been neglected in aircraft refurbishments. We want customers to realise we have thought about bringing the fun back into these areas too, with design themes including a library, glitzy chandeliers and two bathrooms will even include a window so you can admire the view!"

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Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs ph +64 9 336 2761