Game Changer: Inside Air New Zealand’s New Boeing 777-300ER
Moving forward up the plane, the premium economy cabin is not to be outdone by the improvements in the cabin behind it. Again Air New Zealand seeks to not only reset the bar but to recreate it altogether. In the new premium economy cabin (arguably considered business class on any other carrier in terms of product offered), we find the ANZ designed and created “Spaceseat”. While we’ll let our good friends at ANZ do the talking on the perks and performance of the seat in our video, we’ll take a moment to review some of the other innovations this product brings along. First, each space is individualized, meaning that no seat in its fully deployed setting conflicts with the space of the seat to either the left or right, front or behind. This personalization of the literal space means no awkward arm rest sharing, and no annoying reclining seats getting all up in your grill.
The other major innovation lies in the layout of the cabin itself. At first it seems (or did to me) like little more than an aesthetic decision meant to look stunning, and it does. But below the surface you discover the master plan: the structural layout fulfills a vision that “creates two quite different experiences in one cabin”, as Mr Sims explains. The center, inboard, seats are designed to provide (again see our video clip) a “social experience”, while the outboard seats provide a “secluded and introspective experience.” So are you a business traveler going it alone for the long haul? No problem, pick up a seat that faces “outboard” and extend the bubble of privacy around you. Going with your significant other and want to share the experience? Again, no problem; pick up a pair of “inboard” seats and settle in to enjoy the experience together. “Personally,” says Mr. Sims, “I think the structural design of this premium economy spacing is stunning…I think it’ll leave most [competing] business class cabins for dead.”
With one class remaining we work our way to the forward most cabin, Business Premier. Interestingly this cabin remains largely unchanged from the current business premier cabin. By no means does that mean the cabin disappoints; far from it. NYCAviation was lucky enough to be seated in 7J in a fully lie flat, 22” wide armchair for the two hour delivery flight from Everett to LAX. It is a luxurious experience with the dizzying array of bells & whistles available within arms length such as blankets, adjustable/movable IFE screen, very large fold out table to place your meal and drinks on, and small box set full of personal care items to name a few. Of course the other major perk of business premier is the incredible cabin service provided by the in-flight cabin crew…but we’ll leave that for another story when we fly with ANZ again in the future.
As a quick wrap up I’ll just list some of the other innovations and additions that were applied on a plane-wide scale: USB/iPhone/traditional power ports in every seat; revamped lavatories with infrared faucets, enhanced lighting, and some creative wallpaper; new 10.6” IFE screens; YouTube inflight; news and weather updates available via the IFE; cabin wide mood lighting; story time for children in the rear galley; and enhanced drink and food options.
The crew were certainly not left out to dry in the renovation process. The galleys contain multiple user lighter weight service carts and other improvements. The crew rest areas have been revamped and are chock full of some major improvements. In tandem with the new cabin/crew area release ANZ also unveiled a new uniform, as you can see in our photos. The flight deck, explains B777 Deputy Fleet Mgr David Wilson, is not particularly different from any other 777 the airline already has. Of note however are the three cameras located outside the aircraft (one on each horizontal stab and another in a fairing about midway down the fuselage) to give the pilots a good view of the engines and gear along with ground operations. The digital flight bag reduces the amount of paperwork needed to carry about, and rather than rows upon rows of charts and manuals, electronically separate flight bags are placed near both the left and right seats (with backup files located on a laptop not connected to the aircraft).
Frankly, the changes plane wide that we’ve covered in this article only represents a portion of the totality of the features and innovation that will soon begin welcoming Air New Zealand passengers for years to come. We invite you to browse through our photographs and watch our videos to get a taste for yourself of this truly unique aircraft. Thanks for reading.
In the interests of full disclosure NYCAviation correspondents involved with this project attended most of the events surrounding this delivery including the pre-delivery dinner, and the flight down to Los Angeles free of charge. NYCAviation would like to thank our new-found friends at Air New Zealand, CRT/tanaka, and Boeing for their contributions toward making this story happen. Tip of the hat to David Parker at airlinereporter for his photo assistance on board the flight. NYCAviation Correspondents Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren & Tad Carlson contributed to this report.