Air New Zealand has marked the first anniversary of its non-stop long-haul service to New York City, with a “love letter” to the Big Apple.
As reported by Travel Tomorrow, New Zealand’s flag carrier launched the Auckland to New York non-stop 16-hour route on 17 September, 2022, using a Boeing 787-9, or “Dreamliner”. It has has been flying the service, one of the world’s longest, three times a week. In that time, according to the carrier’s celebratory statement, over 112,000 meals, 24,000 glasses of champagne, and 344,000 hours of movies have been consumed by passengers on board.
Not all plain flying
The New York route pushes at the edges of the Dreamliner’s fuel capacity meaning that monitoring the aircraft’s weight is crucial. Though the Dreamliner has 275 available seats, the return New York to Auckland journey, which faces different jet stream differences, flies with some seats empty. Thanks to this approach, the return takes just 50 minutes more than the outward-bound flight.
It has not all been plain sailing, or rather “plain flying” however. The airline’s anniversary missive acknowledged 65 bags “temporarily” left behind and teething problems including refueling stops, which in true love letter style it characterised as “three romantic dates we spent together in the tropics.”
It also referenced a competitor, saying “someone else has turned up on the scene but we’re not the jealous type.” The good-humoured jibe is aimed at Australia’s Qantas, which earlier this year began offering four Sydney to New York flights a week, with a stopover in Auckland. Qantas is also upping the ante with a non-stop London service planned for 2025 under the same “Project Sunrise” banner.
Air New Zealand has a history of “quirkiness” in its public relations comms, notes Simple Flying. All Blacks rugby players, scout extraordinaire Bear Grylls, and even Hobbits have been used in flight safety videos.
Still, long-haul flying is no joke when passenger comfort is not taken seriously. From next year, Boeing’s new 797-9s (as well as retrofitted existing craft) will feature Skynest “sleep pods” in a world first. Seven service options will be offered: Business Premier Luxe, Business Premier, Premium Economy, Economy Skynest, Economy Skycouch, Economy Stretch, and Economy.
What’s more, a Sky Pantry will be available to Premium Economy and Economy cabins, allowing passengers to snack or drink at their own pace, as well as giving flyers the chance to get up and stay mobile throughout the flight.