Sun 16 Nov 2008 - Sat 22 Nov 2008
Please have a look at this photo and tell me what is wrong with it?
That's right; "In Flight" entertainment while the plane is on the ground!
Air New Zealand, you have made me a happy man; a very very happy man! On my flight last week to Phocuswright in LA (more on that later), I had the extreme pleasure of flying economy class with Air New Zealand. I've always been happy with Air New Zealand actually, but having the stewardess announce that the entertainment system was fully operational from the moment you got on board just blew me away! That now is what all airlines will have to measure themselves with going forward. Hats off to Air New Zealand for doing something which doesn't seem difficult but is so brilliant that it boggles my mind no one else has come up with this.
This to me is probably the biggest innovation in the economy class of the airline industry since they started serving meals in flight. A flight for me usually comes down to the entertainment on board. Sure, I want the flight to arrive at the other end more than I want my entertainment to be good, but assuming the first is going to happen the second is by far my biggest joy (or grievance) with any carrier! I have penned 4 page complaint letters on flights started off because the entertainment wasn't working and in my experience the flight quickly goes downhill from there (that was Air France by the way, an airline I vowed to avoid at all costs going forward). I've banged my hand at the screen in frustration with flickering movies and don't even get me started on planes that just have one big screen at the front that you're supposed to follow. Yet along comes an airline from a land where they have more sheep than human beings and they come up with what is truly the biggest innovation for the mass airline industry in a very long time. Can you tell how much I love this?
The whole experience was made so much more meaningful after hearing Tim Simonds, the Managing Director for Customer Strategy and Metrics of United Airlines present at Phocuswright in a session called (please swallow coffee before continuing your read) "Customer Experience and Flying: Not an Oxymoron". Yes, that's UNITED AIRLINES presenting that session!! The entire session was on the business end of the plane and specifically the new bed which will lie down flat. Forget the 95% of travellers that is stuck in the back of the plane; not once were they mentioned! As you can read over at Crankyflier (great site by the way) Tim rightfully got some feedback on this in the Talkback time after he was done presenting. In my humble opinion, Phocuswright made a big mistake here inviting an airline like United over for example Air NZ which actually does seem to be doing something about customer experience. Now I'm not sure if they only allowed paid speakers here because quite a few of the presentations felt like sales pitches, but it surely doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out United is not the best airline to be speaking here.
Other little details I enjoyed about the flight:
- They apologized in advance if your dish of choice wasn't available but assured us that they would start serving from the other end next meal so it wouldn't happen twice. These small details matter, even though I got what I wanted both times.
- Great food; Great entertainment: Great wine;Great service.
- I had tons of space. Here's a shot showing I can put a full flat hand in between my knee and the seat in front of me.
I haven't been paid by Air NZ, yes, I actually paid for the flight. I wasn't upgraded by them and yet here I am taking several minutes out of a busy day to point out that I really enjoyed flying with them. Other airlines should take some serious note.
For my trip to Australia next June the other airlines will be starting off at a serious disadvantage when I start looking at carriers. I'd gladly pay a little extra to experience this again. Thanks Air New Zealand!