Full marks to long hauler Air New Zealand for their product relaunch scheduled for full introduction on April 11th 2011.
Their reach around the world from New Zealand -Asia-UK-USA-New Zealand, with many passengers on board for the best part of 24 hours requires special thinking,- and they have done it.With new seating concepts in all classes,-notably the sofa idea in Economy,and the innovative new Economy Plus arrangement and snacks anytime to order via the seatback touch screens they are setting the long haul pace.
In the front of the aircraft BA has just upped its First Class cabin and improved its Club World to try to cope with the very high quality Gulf carriers' offerings ,though it will have to think again about its visibly thrifted catering too, while Emirates' highly imaginative First and Business cabin layouts on the upper deck of the A380 are particularly stunning.
This is all good news to passengers who have suffered from real product competition being stifled by over-simplistic accountants ("everyone must share the pain,- the customers too")and the huge distortion of choice caused by the big frequent flyer programmes. Good on Air New Zealand for leading new thinking about "the back of the bus".If they can add to their hardware advantage by delivering their offerings with a consistently good, upbeat and cheerful service/hospitality style too, they will give particularly the long established European and American carriers a hard run for their money on the routes where they compete.