Félix Saparelli

(about me)

a.k.a. passcod

Air new zealand happy rant

Posted on Sep 3 ‘15

If you’ve never flown in an Air New Zealand flight, it’s worth a go. They’re different.

Having gone through four other air companies in the last month, all so-called “good”, I feel like I have had an appreciation of their respective qualities. In short: they all suck.

Air NZ is known worldwide for its innovative flight security videos. What is not shown, though, is that you watch that video on a screen that rivals your tablet’s, with an interface on par with Android’s. It’s got smoother scrolling than the iPhone, and it can charge it in-flight, too.

Oh, and there’s a straight 3.5mm jack in the screen so you can use your own headphones if you wish, even if you forgot that tiny 2-mono-to-1-stereo converter that goes for 500¥ in airport shops.

Even nicer touch: both the jack and the USB plug light up when you approach your fingers to let you see exactly where they are.

Every seat has a 230V power socket you can plug anything into, no adapter needed (unlike various airports, most recently for me Tokyo-Narita, where they apparently failed to employ even a single UX specialist or simply consider that an international airport might get, guess what, inter-bloody-national people — and their devices).

The seats themselves are spacious, or feel that way anyway. The backrest has that nifty feature where if you recline it, the actual part you put your buttocks on slides just so in the opposite direction so it still is as comfortable to sit on as your living room’s couch.

Did I mention the mood lighting? There’s a strip of coloured light running all the length of the aircraft, just above the luggage bins. It provides not only a discreet but effective way to see where handles are and highlight headspace, but it also tints up the atmosphere of the entire cabin. At night, it’s a constant cross of blue and violet, but at day it can happen to change… according to whom’s logic? who knows; perhaps it is the very ship’s mood.

Speaking of nights, some of the fleet’s planes are equipped with “Sky Couches”, which is where three seats next to the others have a little extra that folds up to make a single (or double, according to the brochure) bed to sleep or lounge on.

Each cabin (Economy, First, Business) has a “Chief of Cabin Experience” (title might have been altered by my flaky memory) who is the face of all flight attendants serving that cabin and will make sure everything goes well for everyone. Every staff is stylish and impeccably dressed, conduct is extremely professional, and compared to every⋅ single⋅ other⋅ air service I’ve been on, I feel valued even as an Economy customer.

Nobody even blinked when I asked for sparkling wine to go with my actually good-tasting beef, veggies, and cheesecake dinner. In fact, I had to choose further: they had two.

Most annoying thing I noticed? The “flight information” show is a bit dated. Static maps, none of the fine-grained control and zoom we’ve come to expect from touch screens around us.

Single thing I muttered swears at? The block-everything-on-screen announcements. Some are necessary and valuable, of course, but it would be great to e.g. select your prefered language and only have those blocking your screen. Waiting an extra 5 minutes for the Japanese or Chinese (or…) translation to finish is frustrating at best.

For less important announces, a dismissable bubble appears in front of whatever you’re doing at the time: that’s pretty awesome! I’m going to appreciate much more that snacks can now be ordered (and even maybe be tempted) if it doesn’t interrupt my film for fifteen seconds.

Best thing I didn’t use? The “see whatever people around you are watching”. As in movies, music, TV. It’s quite frequent that I look over at people’s screens because the action looks interesting. With this I can easily see what they are looking at without interrupting them. For families, couples, etc, a feature on top of that is the ability to sync your viewing to the others’, eliminating the fiddling around to start within a second of each other that’s so common in situations like this. Its range could be improved, though. I often cast a look across the aisle and beyond the immediate new row, which this doesn’t helf for.

+100, will fly with again.