July 13, 2024

Air New Zealand launches its Future Aircraft Cabin Experience

Air New Zealand took home the Gold award in Cabin Concept of the Year 2023 for its Future Aircraft Cabin Experience

Airline: Air New Zealand

Launched: October 2022

Elements: Catering • Comfort • Interior Design • Technology • Service/Crew • CSR  

Air New Zealand is redefining the future of onboard customer experience with a focus on the future and its ‘Manaaki – taking care further’ brand promise.

The carrier has redesigned its product offer through an innovative FACE programme (Future Aircraft Cabin Experience) tasked to deliver the best flying experience on earth.

The team identified a wide range of customer-driven innovation in product and experiences that will be rolled out from 2022 onwards on the new B787 aircraft. All are designed to deliver a step change to the current offer, putting people at the centre of the business and delivering a new level of care across all touchpoints.

The concept is built around a new brand promise of ‘Manaaki – taking care further than any other airline on earth’ and includes new propositions for each cabin: Business Premier – ‘A world apart’; Premium economy – ‘A little luxury’ and Economy – ‘Cabin of possibility’. Complementing these cabin propositions was a design brief: “to follow the creative territory of ‘The Land of Flight’”, referencing native New Zealand flora and fauna, and in particular the Tui bird, whose colours and characteristics are distinctly New Zealand.

The innovations were developed after 18 months of customer research and a coordinated and connected approach to the fulfilment is being achieved through a strong brand promise and design brief, and a consistent programme team empowered to think outside the norm and really push the boundaries of what is possible.


All cabins aim to provide a memorable, contemporary New Zealand dining experience, sourcing the finest fresh produce from across Aotearoa (New Zealand).

In Business meals begin with an amuse bouche, raising perceptions of a premium service from the start. There is a choice of entrée and customers can customise their main meal selecting, for example,  a super-food salad and adding their choice of protein, including roasted free range chicken or lemon kelp dusted salmon fillet.

A staged breakfast service has moved to a brunch-style offering, including creamy mushrooms and eggs benedict, complemented by espresso coffee.

Premium Economy offers entree, main meal and dessert of business class quality, served on fine china; while in long-haul Economy investment was made to increase the quality of the main meal. In short-haul, the culinary team developed contemporary café style offerings such as a breakfast wrap or frittata, or a bircher muesli bowl with fresh fruit. These are accompanied by a high quality bakery items.

The new serviceware collection uses E-Lite ceramics, which has similar strength properties to bone china, and is lighter weight. The design has organic forms and playful touches, such as espresso cups in four colours. In Economy, serviceware has moved to sustainable single use materials – bagasse and birch-wood.

Interior design

The airline’s new cabin interiors were designed to emulate the uniqueness of Aotearoa. The decor, touchpoints and finishes reflect ‘The Land of Flight’ – a creative territory that references native flora and fauna.

In particular, the Tui bird inspired the bespoke textures, patterns and colour palette – including the iridescent teals; pearlescent whites, and abstract macro feather patterns. Violet, ‘the colour of care’ is used throughout.

Ferns and native bush also inform the interiors and contemporary luxury lodges inspired the sense of calm and familiarisation throughout the cabin. The interiors include unexpected details revealed over time – patterns, textures and fibres that come to life under the curated ambient lighting, and cabin scenes that evolve through a flight. Playful lavatory laminates feature four unique wallpapers; including a forest scene to play hide and seek with native birds, and a fantastical array of feathers.

Each seat has it’s own identity inspired by the Tui. Business Premier is the nest – a comforting private cocoon. Premium Economy is a feather cloak that wraps the customer in the concept of care and prestige through the use of modern textures. Economy is the vibrant song of the Tui – a visual expression of the playful bird.


Post-Covid Air New Zealand has worked with its crew to reset service, shifting the focus from the minimal contact service necessary during the pandemic to a strong focus on service delivery excellence. Crew have been heavily involved in every aspect of the reset. Crew feedback from ground and inflight trials was used to refine the offering. The airline invested heavily in the crew training and engagement to give staff an overview of all the changes. The focus was on genuine, human interactions and the re-imagining of the premium service. A shift in crew mindset was key to delivering the new concepts and the training ensured crew supported the new experiences with confidence, and enabled a seamless roll out across the entire international network.


In response to customer research the airline developed the Skynest concept – a world first innovation that offers a lie flat rest experience through a standalone monument comprising six bunks in Economy. This will deliver an affordable, restful and unique experience for long-haul travel. Designed in-house, specifically for Economy travellers in response to the endurance of Ultra Long-Haul travel, Skynest provides an affordable upgrade option for those who need it the most. When Skynest delivers in late 2024, it will be a world first innovation.

In Business Premier the core need of sleep is delivered through the new Sleep Ritual. This takes the form of a tray of items designed to assist with sleep – a hot towel, sleep inducing snacks, chamomile tea, and pulse point balm. Alongside this, a bookmark invites passengers to experience Zentertainment – meditative and relaxing content on the IFE.


Air New Zealand’s has a new IFE supplier, delivering on new B787 aircraft from 2024, and this will allow the airline to develop connected apps and content to support and entertain the passenger. Zentertainment will expand and new features such as interactive quizzes will be added.  Digital menus will tell the stories of the food including video content on the culinary offer – building customer anticipation.

Bluetooth audio will be available across the entire aircraft, allowing customers to pair their own devices. In Business Premier, there will be the ability to pair a customer device with their screen and use this as a remote control or second screen. Ambient lighting within the seat will be connected to cabin lighting, providing a subtle change in seat lighting when the cabin lighting scene is changed.

CSR elements

Air New Zealand weaves sustainability into all things and believes customers increasingly want to see visible and tangible proof-points of change, including less plastic inflight, and more reusable or recyclable items.

In Business Premier and Premium Economy, one of the airline’s key metrics for programme success was a reduction of weight while retaining operational durability. The new serviceware is an average of 20% lighter reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions. The actual weight reduction per flight is up to 76kg.

In economy the focus was on the reduction of single-use plastics. After trials and feedback on a number of alternatives, bagasse was selected for main meal dishes and bowls, and birchwood cutlery in paper sleeves replaced single use plastic equivalents. Air New Zealand is on track to meet its goal of removing 50 percent of single-use fossil-fuel derived plastic across all cabins by 2023 – with over 28 million single-use plastic items forecasted to be removed per year.

For Premium Economy and Economy soft products, polar fleece was removed and the new blankets selected are a modacrylic which is a strong, soft, resilient material that is durable. The new plush economy pillow, and new pillowcase are 100% RPET.