Air New Zealand

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

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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 airlinetrends.com’s monthly “Airline Marketing Benchmark Report” which is produced in cooperation with airline brand consultants SimpliFlying.

Best Practices in Airline Marketing - Monthly selection of the most innovative marketing campaigns launched by airlines around the world

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

By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

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.

Best Practices in Airline Marketing - Monthly selection of the most innovative marketing campaigns launched by airlines around the world

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Airline ‘fare clubs’ offer regular travellers a standard discount

As ancillary fees for checked baggage, priority boarding, extra legroom seats, etcetera, become more commonplace in the airline industry, several airlines have been introducing branded/bundled fares and annual ancillary subscriptions as a next step. United Airlines, for example, offers unlimited checked baggage for USD349 a year, while airBaltic recently introduced a similar fee in partnership with luggage brand Samsonite. Another category are ‘fare clubs’, which for an annual fee, provide regular travellers with a standard discount or access to member-only fares.

Wizz Air ‘Xclusive Club’
Wizz Air, a low-cost airline from Poland that offers flights from several bases in Central and Eastern Europe, has recently launched a new membership program called Wizz Xclusive Club. For an annual fee of EUR 29.99, Wizz Xclusive Club members get exclusive access to a pool of tickets that can be cheaper by up to 10 EUR per one-way flight than regular prices. Up to 9 passengers can be booked together with the Xclusive Club member on the same reservation and benefit from the discounted fares. Wizz Air is the first airline in Europe to offer a ‘fare club’ and says that in the first two weeks following the rollout, almost 50 thousand customers signed up.

Spirit Airlines ‘$9 Fare Club’
Wizz Air seems to have been inspired by Florida-based low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines, which in 2008 launched its ‘$9 Fare Club’. Spirit guarantees a member-only sale, with ticket prices as low as a few dollars, at least once every six weeks, but usually offers at least one sale per week. The special fares are offered on a first come, first serve basis and travellers flying on the same ticket will receive the members-only fare as well. Annual membership of the $9 Fare Club costs USD59.95, but those who sign up for a Spirit-branded MasterCard also obtain a free membership to the $9 Fare Club.
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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 airlinetrends.com ‘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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Emirates, Cathay, Air New Zealand latest airlines to ‘crowdsource’ new products

Earlier this year we reported how airlines such as KLM and  Virgin Atlantic are using the Internet to co-create products with the general public. Recent examples from airlines such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Air New Zealand, who are introducing crowdsourced products such as loyalty card designs, inflight cocktails, snacks, desserts and eyemasks, show that ‘open innovation’ is here to stay. 

Emirates ‘Skywards Future Artist Programme’
In August 2010, Emirates launched the first edition of its ‘Our Future Artists’ competition, asking artist around the world to submit their artwork for a chance to be featured on the 2011 membership cards of the airline’s frequent flyer programme, Skywards. Entries needed to reflect and interpret the mood of each of the three membership levels of the Skywards program: ‘Luxurious, elite and precious’ for the Gold tier, ‘sophistication, intelligence and richness’ for the Silver tier and ‘bold, visionary and modern’ for the Blue level. All styles and sizes of art, including sculpture, photography and paintings could be submitted. 

Out of more than 3,500 entries, a panel of industry professionals and experts created a shortlist of 4 entries for each brief, with the winning designs voted for by Skywards members. The three winning artists were Nedim Kufi (Netherlands) for the Gold card, a 3-D computer-generated image of bronze nuggets, Amir Vafaei’s (Iran) silver geometric design motif of Turkoman rugs for the Silver card, and Kambiz Sabri (Iran) was the winner for the Blue card design, a sculpture of light and transparency featuring enlarged rain drops. The winners also receive USD5,000 and will be flown to Dubai where their portfolio will be displayed at the Art Dubai fair in March 2011. Distribution of more than 5 million cards with the new design to Skyward members will begin in January 2011. 
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Smart design innovations that make life onboard a bit more comfortable

The A380 has 50 percent more floor space than a B747, but on average only has a third more seats, which leaves the remaining 15 percent of space available for larger seats and customized areas. This has allowed airlines to launch flagship products that have generated lots of attention, such as First Class suites, onboard bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, bars and lounges. At the other end of the spectrum, and also as a sign of more modest cabin interiors in leaner times ahead, airlines have gotten creative in designing  small practical innovations that make life a bit more comfortable onboard. Some examples. 

Pillows
Air New Zealand (ANZ) in January 2010 unveiled a radical new design of the cabins on its new B777-300s, including the ‘SkyCouch’ seat in Economy and the ‘Spaceseat’ in Premium Economy. The airline’s new design also extended to small comfort innovations, such as a ‘slip on pillow’ which goes over the winged headrest in Economy and eliminates the nuisance of pillows falling down and the need for inflatable neck cushions. In Premium Economy, ANZ’s new Spaceseat has no legrests, but instead features a bean bag style cushion, which the airline affectionately calls ‘Otto’ (short for ottoman). Otto can be moved around freely and enables passengers to create their own position for sleeping rather than being restrained by an uncomfortable, stiff leg rest. 

Exercise
On a long flight, it is advisable that passengers stretch their legs from time to time. SAS took this advice a step further and installed a ‘stretch bar’ between the premium economy and business class cabins, so passengers can stretch their backs as well. Read full article »

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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 »

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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British Airways and Air New Zealand latest airlines to launch online business communities

Realizing they are not only in the business of taking passengers from one destination to the other, but that they are rather connecting people, a number of airlines have launched social networks of their own in the past years. Think BA’s Metrotwin, Virgin Atlantic’s vtravelled.com, Air France-KLM’s Bluenity and American Airlines’ BlackAtlas.com. Other airlines, such as KLM (Club China, Club Africa, Flying Blue Golf), and Lufthansa (Miles & More MemberScout) have launched business-oriented social networks for members of their frequent flyer programs.

British Airways has just launched an online ‘Face-to-Face Community’ for small business professionals in the U.S, as part of its ‘Face-to-Face’ campaign. Initiated in July 2009, the airline’s ‘Face-to-Face’ program solicited stories from U.S small and medium companies on how a face-to-face meeting overseas would help them during the recession. The 1,000 winning entries received free travel on three special BA flights from New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to London and beyond to make their meetings a reality. BA says the people who went on the first Face-to-Face trips at that time asked how they could stay in touch with each other, hence the online network.
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Airlines team up with the general public to ‘fly their ideas’

Since airlinetrends.com is all about product and service innovation in the airline industry, what better topic is there than how airlines and airports are teaming up with the general public in order to generate ideas for new products and services. Air New Zealand, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Airbus all recently launched co-creation/crowdsourcing/customer-made intitiatives. 

Air New Zealand ‘Aviation Design Academy’
Air New Zealand’s ‘Aviation Design Academy’ is asking the public to add a few finishing touches to the offerings in the airline’s all-new cabin. Participants can sign-up to create a mid-flight snack for travelers in Economy; a signature cocktail for Premium Economy customers; or a stylish eye mask for Business Class passengers, and ANZ will turn the winning ideas into actual products. The winner for each category will also win two free tickets on the inaugural flight of ANZ’s new B777-300 aircraft from Auckland to London in April 2011. The competition is open to people across the world, and submissions have to be in before 26 April 2010. 
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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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Premium economy gains further ground on long-haul flights

For cost-conscious business travellers as well as wealthier leisure travellers, premium economy was born as a hybrid between economy and business class and is currently offered by a dozen airlines, mainly from Europea and Asia-Pacific. With company travel budgets squeezed during the economic downturn, this ‘value for money’ class is being offered by an increasing number of carriers. In 2009, V Australia(February 2009) and Air France (October 2009) introduced a premium economy class. Air France says its new Premium Voyageur cabin will increase its operating income by EUR 120 million a year from 2010 on.

Alitalia, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad
In June 2010 Alitalia will introduce a new premium economy cabin, called ‘Classica Plus’. Malaysia Airlines will fit a ‘super economy’ class on its A380’s (first delivery expected in April 2012), saying it would serve “those organisations that maintain an economy-class travel policy for their employees, even after the recession.” On a similar note, Cathay Pacific says changes in passenger demand have convinced it to install a Premium Economy product across its network by 2012, as such a cabin could help capture a clientele looking to trade down from Business Class. Finally, ‘Gulf Gulliver’ Etihad is reported to consider a premium economy zone for its A380s, which are scheduled to start being delivered in 2012.
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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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