Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand to track unaccompanied minors via digital bracelet and mobile app

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By Raymond Kollau,

The ubiquity of personal devices, the availability to be connected anywhere, and the self-service mindset of travellers, has created a momentum that sees many of today’s passenger experience innovations taking place in the digital realm.

For example, Air New Zealand – already noted for its adoption of digital technologies – recently announced it has created the new role of ‘Chief Digital Officer’, as part of a rethink of how the airline approached digital innovation.

The New Zealand Herald also reports that Air New Zealand has just unveiled a host of digital novelties aimed at removing customer pain points, and is working on the development and introduction of permanent digital bag tags, biometric scanners for luggage dropoff, electronic departure cards, and a tracking system for kids flying alone using digital wristbands.

Some of these digital services will be introduced at the end of the year, while others are being looked at as a possibility for the future.

Tracking unaccompanied minors
One eye-catching innovation are the digital wristbands for unaccompanied minors (kids who are flying without their parents). Taking a cue from Disney’s ‘Magic Band’, Air New Zealand is planning to introduce an electronic tracking system for the 28,000 unaccompanied minors it carries per year. The high-tech bracelets replace a paper system and aim to provide parents with more peace of mind, as they will be able to receive real-time information on where their child is during the journey.

How it works: According to the NZ Herald, unaccompanied minors will be offered a silicon wrist band in the colour of their choice which contains a chip that connects to a mobile application.

The app will allow Air New Zealand employees to easily identify the child and send intermittent text messages to parents and family of the child, notifying them where their child is in the flight process and how they are doing. Read full article »

Air New Zealand lets lounge guests order their favourite coffee via their smartphone

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By Raymond Kollau,

Ordering food and beverages via tablet devices is rapidly becoming the new normal at casual dining restaurants across the USA (e.g, chains such as Applebees and Chili’s), while airport restaurateur OTG has installed thousands of iPads at half a dozen U.S. airports.

Furthermore, forward-looking airlines such as Virgin America, Air New Zealand and Norwegian allow passengers to order meals, snacks and drinks via the IFE system. Allowing passengers to order via their own smartphone will be a logical next step.

And, following the success of its mobile payment app, Starbucks last October introduced its first order-ahead mobile application in Portland, Oregon, in a bid to speed up service and boost sales. The first stores in Portland allow iPhone users to order using the Starbucks app before they arrive. Customers typically will have to wait about five minutes for their drinks and food to be ready after placing an order through the app.

Air New Zealand lounges
Tapping into today’s ‘coffee culture’ Air New Zealand has been featuring barista’s who make freshly brewed coffee to passenger’s preferences in its ‘Koru’ lounges for some time. Lounge guest could order their favourite coffee by ticking a few boxes on a piece of paper, add their name and hand it over.

In a clever move, flyers now can order barista-made coffee via ANZ’s tablet or smartphone app the minute they walk into one of the airline’s Koru Clubs around New Zealand, including its international lounge at Auckland Airport. Read full article »

Air New Zealand plays matchmaker in Valentine’s Day ‘Blind Gate’ campaign

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By Raymond Kollau,

To promote its London to LA route, as well as its innovative Skycouch seat, Air New Zealand UK has launched a Valentine’s Day campaign which uses its own flights to pair two strangers together on a blind date. Named ‘Blind Gate’, the campaign invites those looking for new love to sign up for a chance to compete in a blind date contest, with two lucky couples flying from London to Los Angeles on ANZ.

The airline is collaborating with UK newspaper The Guardian, who had those interested in the contest sign up on the weekly ‘Blind Date’ section of its website. On Valentine’s Day, ten shortlisted contestants will gather at a specially built TV studio at Heathrow’s T1 to take part in the blind-date contest.

This contest consists of questions that promote elements of Air New Zealand’s in-flight experience, for example contestants will be asked what drinks they might order or what movies they might watch on their journey.

Each contestant has to bring a passport and a packed suitcase, and the two lucky couples chosen – one gay and one straight – will board an ANZ flight to LA as soon as the winners are announced. The couples will be seated on Air New Zealand’s Skycouch, a row of economy seats that folds into a 2-person couch, and which is also known as “cuddle class.”

To see how they get on, a camera crew from the Guardian will also document and follow the couples’ holiday to LA, including coverage of the flight on the Skycouch, for a five-episode series on the campaign website and for a feature in The Guardian’s Weekend edition.

ANZ’s “Blind Gate” initiative is not the airline’s first forray into inflight matchmaking. In 2009 the airline declaring that one of its regularly scheduled 12-hour overnight flights from Los Angeles to Auckland would be transformed into a special Matchmaking Flight, complete with its own social media networking site, pre-flight airport party, in-flight hijinks and a ticket to a gala post-flight mixer attended by 150 single Kiwis.

For more innovative airline marketing campaigns check’s monthly “Airline Marketing Benchmark Report” which is produced in cooperation with airline brand consultants SimpliFlying.

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Air New Zealand offers frequent flyers a space to work in downtown Auckland

By Raymond Kollau,

Finding a place to work comfortably if their flight leaves late in the evening is an uncomfortable situation for many passengers, especially when there is no late checkout available at the hotel.

Koru Central
Australian Business Traveller reports that Air New Zealand (ANZ) offers its top-tier frequent flyers of its Airpoints loyalty program and members of its Koru Club lounge program complimentary access to Generator, a co-working space and business club located in the Britomart area in downtown Auckland. ANZ says it offers the service, which it has dubbed ‘Koru Central’, to provide passengers with “an office-away-from-office” and “a place to touch down” in the central business district of Auckland on the days they fly in and out of Auckland.

Inside the loft-style Generator ‘being space’, passengers will find shared work environments, sofas and armchairs, plus a cafe/bar/lounge area and shower facilities. Meeting rooms are also available. Passengers also get 2GB per month of Internet on their Koru Central account, with extra data at NZ$5 per GB. Business services like a PA, dictation services, and document production are available at Generator member rates and ANZ’s frequent flyers also earn Airpoints Dollars if they pay for eligible purchases using the OneSmart feature of their Airpoints card.
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Air New Zealand lets passengers show their golf skills up in the air

To celebrate its sponsorship of the New Zealand PGA Pro-Am Championship, Air New Zealand (ANZ) has recently organized a world first in in-flight entertainment: A ‘30,000ft In-Flight Putting Challenge’. From 22 March untill 26 March, passengers on ANZ selected flights between Auckland and Queenstown were given the chance to “putt for prizes.”

Always looking for an innovative campaign that makes headlines, ANZ has turned the aisle of its so-called ‘All Blacks’ A320 aircraft (painted black in honor of its sponsorship of New Zealand rugby) into a putting green at 30,000 feet.

Four passengers on each flight could compete for prizes, and to participate passengers had to fill out an entry form in the departure gate lounge and drop it in an entry box located at the gate prior to departure. If ANZ’s cabin crew drew their name they were invited to participate on board.

On the Air New Zealand blog, an inflight leaderboard showed the top putters of each flight. The overall winner was announced on March 27th and received a VIP trip for two to watch the final day of the pro-am championship, including flights, accommodation and a new set of Callaway RAZR clubs.

According to ANZ’s sponsorship manager James Gibson, the quirky competition was a great way to show the airline’s support for the championship. “At Air New Zealand we’re crazy about rugby on the outside of our planes and we’re crazy about golf on the inside. This world-first for entertainment onboard is sure to show off some skills and provide a few thrills for passengers travelling on the all black A320 over the next few days.” Video of the campaign here.

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Air New Zealand and TAM let staff fit their uniforms in a boutique environment

In what is another example that everything can and will be upgraded in the end, Air New Zealand (ANZ), which tops the ‘Innovative Airlines’ list, offers it staff a boutique-like environment to pick up their uniforms. The airline has commissioned interior designers Gascoigne Associates to create a space that embodied the design of its new uniforms by New Zealand fashion designer Trelise Cooper (which by the way received a mixed response from ANZ’s crew).

Called ‘Clothes Hangar’, ANZ staff are greeted by stylists on arrival, can watch a welcome video on the LCD screen and view mannequins dressed in the new uniform, giving them an opportunity to see how the different uniform pieces can work together as a total wardrobe solution, as well as touch and feel the final fabrications. The Clothes Hangar also has a ‘Styling Room’ with on-site beauty consultants that help staff to select new shoes or demonstrate preferred make-up applications and hair do’s to fully accent the new uniform.

The bright white space is filled with graffiti-like graphics and blue tube racking rails wind their way through the space and into the fitting rooms, while a blue dotted line snakes across the floor. The ‘check-out’ area is highlighted with a bright pink counter with ‘graffiti’ designs printed on textured wallpaper. Outside the ‘check-out’ space is a large ornate framed window covered in Polaroid images of staff in their new uniforms. On leaving staff are asked to write a comment about their experience on brightly coloured post-it notes, which are stuck to the entry lobby walls.
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Innovative airlines 2011: #1 Air New Zealand

For avid airline industry watchers it may come as no surprise that Air New Zealand (ANZ) tops our 2011 list of most innovative airlines in the world. ANZ is a small airline in a small country at the end of the world with powerful competitors everywhere, so it has to be innovative and nimble to gain an edge over larger rivals. Just like number 2 on our list, All Nippon Airways, ANZ has taken the arrival of its first B787 as an opportunity to redesign the long-haul inflight experience from scratch, but the Dreamliner’s multiple delays, decided to install the interior on its new B777-300ER aircraft instead.

The culmination of four years work by ANZ, the new cabin has just made its commercial debut on flights between Auckland and Los Angeles and ANZ will officially launch its new product on the Auckland – LA – London route in April 2011 once three new aircraft are in fleet.

Skycouch, Spaceseat
Airlines around the world have been ignoring the Economy cabin for years as they invested to upgrade first- or business-class seats that provide higher profit margins. However, as the majority of ANZ’s long-haul flights are overnight and are on average 90 minutes longer than any other airline, the airline has decided to spend most of its research and development budget on a design overhaul of the inflight experience in Economy. ANZ now effectivily has 3 types of Economy seats: Regular Economy (which also offers passengers a last-minute option to book an empty seat next to them), Economy ‘Skycouch’, and Premium Economy.

ANZ’s revolutionary ‘Skycouch’ (a.k.a ‘Cuddle Class’) is made up of three standard economy seats which can be changed into a single horizontal space by removing arm rests. The seats also have large flip-up cushions that fill the space between the end of the seat and the next row of seats, creating  a flat surface 156 cm long and 76 cm wide. Seat-belt extenders enable passengers to be buckled in when prone. Designed chiefly for couples and families with young children, the Skycouch has to be booked in a set of three seats, but for the price of 2.5 economy seat. Twenty-two sets of Skycouch seats – about a quarter of all economy seats – will be available, being the first 11 window rows on either side of the economy cabin.

ANZ is also introducing a new Premium Economy seat, callled ‘Spaceseat’. The hard-shell seat comes in two configurations: ‘Outer Space’ seats, in pairs by the windows, are angled to provide privacy for people travelling alone, while ‘Inner Space’ seats, also in pairs, make it easy for people to dine or sit together.
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Airlines, airports and hotels experiment with location-based social networks

Airlines, airports and hotels are starting to embrace the latest trend in social media: location-based social networks. The most popular platform is currently Foursquare, which has 2.7 million users worldwide (of which 60% in the U.S.) and is adding 100,000 users per week. Foursquare allows members to share their current physical location with friends via their gps-enabled cellphone when they enter a new location, a procedure also known as ‘checking-in’. Foursquare just reached 100 million ‘check-ins’ and says that the most popular venues are transit-related locations such as airports and train stations.

An important social status element of foursquare are ‘badges’. Points are awarded for ‘checking in’ at a locations, and by checking in frequently, visiting specific locations, or performing tasks members can earn badges. For example, the ‘Jetsetter’ badge can be earned by visiting an airport 5 times, and the ‘Airport’ badge can be earned by visiting 5 different airports. 

Since early August 2010, foursquare users can also check-in at 30,000 feet. Passengers in the U.S who use Gogo’s inflight Internet service can earn a special foursquare ‘Mile High Badge’, once they connect. Gogo is hoping that foursquare users will be tempted to try out its WiFi service if they know that they will receive a special badge for using it, as many foursquare users are avid badge hunters. Read full article »

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Air New Zealand gives its inflight entertainment a social twist

 Air New Zealand (ANZ) is giving the inflight entertainment on its new B777-300 aircraft a social twist. There’s nothing ‘2.0’ to ANZ’s new social IFE feature though. Instead, the airline wants to bring the experience of watching TV together to the back of the aircraft seat at 30,000 feet, which passengers in ANZ’s ‘Skycouch’ seats may especially appreciate. 

The new ‘screen share’ feature on ANZ’s Panasonic eX2 IFE system gives passengers the option to synchronize video and music with their neighbours so they can watch and listen together. Parents can use the feature to check what their children are watching, for example. How it works: The ‘screen share’ page on the IFE system shows what other passengers in the same row are watching or listening to and passengers can choose to join in or to start the same content from scratch. It is not known if passengers can turn off the screen share option, in order to avoid nosy co-passengers tuning in. ANZ is also catering to those that carry their personal entertainment devices, as every seat comes with in-seat power and an USB connection. 
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Air New Zealand goes single class on short-haul routes and radically rebundles fares

Fierce competition on the Tasman and South Pacific routes has led Air New Zealand (ANZ) to radically overhaul its short-haul fares and service offerings. The airline has decided to remove business-class seats from its A320 aircraft that fly from New Zealand to Australia and the Pacific islands, increasing capacity by an extra 19 seats to 171 seats. Instead, the single-class A320s will have four options of service, priced accordingly.

A ‘Seat’ option allows one carry-on bag of 7kg, tea, coffee and water and access to some entertainment options but no new release entertainment. ‘Seat + Bag’ allows one carry-on bag and one checked bag, tea, coffee and water and some entertainment. ‘The Works’ offers carry-on and checked bag, meal and drinks and a seat request, and ‘Works Deluxe’ allows two priority bags, a carry-on bag, meal and drinks, a seat request, a guaranteed empty seat next to the passenger, premium check in, lounge access and better entertainment options. ANZ said a Works Deluxe airfare would be around NZD500 (EUR270, USD360) cheaper than a current business class fare and the seat-only option would be “in exactly the same place” as budget airlines. The airline is also introducing automated check-in procedures similar to those currently used on domestic flights, in which a RFID chip can be used to check in. 
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Air New Zealand’s ‘Airpoints Fairy’ honours a wish a day

Air New Zealand  (ANZ) has come up with a clever way to surprise members of its Airpoints frequent flyer program. ANZ’s ‘Airpoints Fairy’ once a day pubicly will grant a customer’s wish. ANZ Airpoints members can make wishes via Twitter and hope that ANZ’s ‘Airpoints Fairy’ will honour their request. Says the Airpoints Fairy: “You can wish for whatever you want, but I can only grant wishes for Airpoints members. Most wishes I grant are related to Airpoints or a few other services Air New Zealand offer.”

The wishes that are granted can be big or small, and wishes so far have included requests for 500 Airpoints, lounge passes, to several requests for elite status upgrades and free flights. In order to get the Airpoints Fairy’s attention for their wish, some members have been getting very creative, like this lovely request to the Airpoints Fairy via YouTube. All in all this is a great way for ANZ to make its Airpoints program top of mind for its members and strenghten the ties with a daily random act of kindness.

Air New Zealand goes lie-flat in economy class

Air New Zealand (ANZ) has unveiled a new economy class seat dubbed the ‘Skycouch’, to give economy passengers a lie-flat experience once reserved for premium cabins. The Skycouch is made up of three standard economy seats that can be changed into a single, horizontal space by removing arm rests. The seats, designed by the airline in cooperation with IDEO and built by manufacturer Recaro, have large flip-up cushions that fill the space between the end of the seat and the next row of seats. When all three seats are reclined with the footrests up, they form a flat surface 156 cm long and 76 cm wide on which two adults can sleep (a standard single bed is 190 by 90 cm). Seat-belt extenders enable passengers to be buckled in when prone.

Individual travelers can buy the Skycouch seats, but ANZ has designed them chiefly for couples and families with young children. Passengers would need to buy the three seats together, and pay the full price for two economy seats and half price for the third. Twenty-two sets of Skycouch seats (about a quarter of all economy seats) will be available, being the first 11 window rows on either side of the economy cabin. Every seat also comes with in-seat power and USB connections.
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Air New Zealand plans ‘economy seat-beds’ on new B777-300s

Air New Zealand (ANZ) has revealed plans to offer Economy passengers the chance to spread out in comfort in a new seating concept that will convert their seat and the one next to them into a so-called ‘economy seat-bed’. Passengers will be offered this option if there is an unsold seat available next to them when they check in at the airport. The airline has not said what it might charge passengers for the extra seat, but industry analyst estimate a NZ$150 (USD100/EUR75) charge to be reasonable. The economy seat-beds are developed by ANZ’s design subsidiary Altitude and are expected to be unveiled in April 2010 when ANZ will show the new interior for its new Boeing 777-300Ers it will receive at the end of next year. 

At the moment, ANZ already offers passengers on long-haul flights the option to buy the seat next to them, if it proves to be unsold upon check-in. This service is called ‘twinseat’ and is available for NZ$99 (USD70/EUR50). However, the airline says the main limitation of this service is that “not all arm rests onboard our aircraft fully retract and therefore Twin Seat is not intended for, and may not allow you to sit across or lay across multiple seats.” The new ‘seat-bed’ design would remove this limitation and is rumoured to be a system in which both seats could slide forward and the seat rest would raise up so the foot room disappears and the passenger can spread out across both seats.
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