I can’t wait to fly Air New Zealand again!

This isn’t going to be one of those articles in which I tell you how I “travel hacked” to get a bunch of frequent flier miles to cash in for some insane first class treatment. This is simply a testimonial of a customer overwhelmed by an excellent intercontinental flight I paid for myself: in coach.

I had never flown Air New Zealand prior to this week. Indeed, the opportunity only came about because the intersection of the dates I wanted and the route I needed revealed ANZ to be the cheapest flight I could take (in my case London-Los Angeles, return, for under $700 USD).

After years of unremarkable intercontinental coach travel, I wasn’t expecting much this week. Which is precisely why ANZ impressed so much. So few airlines really care.

I first got a hint of what was ahead when the safety video came on. Instead of the same old, same old, ANZ offered up a video full of beautiful people — mostly surf pros — demonstrating all the required information in an unusual and engaging presentation.

The video system gives you access to an enormous selection of movies, television, audiobooks, and games. There’s even a feature that allows you to mark “favorites” as you’re browsing so you can just tap on that screen later when you’re ready to watch. They also allow you to email the list to yourself so that if your interest was piqued by something you won’t forget about it!

During the flight as turbulence or seatbelt warnings happened on the intercom, a pop-up appeared on the right hand side of the screen. The movie wasn’t interrupted — you were simply notified and could tap “Okay, got it” to dismiss it.

But when I felt most special was in between meal services. We got a great meal on departure and shortly before arrival — but should you feel peckish in between, pause your movie and tap your way to the kitchen tab, where you can order free snacks and drinks…to be delivered to your seat! A little “room service.”

The seats themselves each had a power outlet that fits every configuration I’ve ever seen, in addition to USB charging outlets — with ledges — for your devices. I even spied what looked like an S-video connector.

As I deplaned roughly 10 hours after I started my journey, it was clear to me that ANZ has a team of people focused on the customer experience — not just those flying first class (and paying for all the rest of us) — but also those of us who are in the “back of the bus.” ANZ are proving, through my own rather “typical” experience that it’s not hard to deliver a great intercontinental coach flight experience. It just takes intentionality and execution.

ANZ never “underpromised” me. But they certainly overdelivered. And I’m looking forward to the flight back in a few weeks. And I’ll think of them first when planning flights along their routes in the future. Whakawhetai, guys.

photo used by Creative Commons from ZK-NZE.