Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787-9 inflight entertainment system

By David Flynn, July 10 2014
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787-9 inflight entertainment system

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787-9 also marks the debut of a revamped inflight entertainment system, and it's a corker.

Although the Dreamliner is fitted with Panasonic Avionics' latest hardware, the same software will be rolled out across the airline's flagship Boeing 777-300 fleet by year's end.

The Kiwi carrier's Boeing 777-200ER fleet will also get into the picture as each of these older jets is refurbished with lie-flat business class seats, a new premium economy cabin and Panasonic's eXlite touchscreen system.

Australian Business Traveller had the chance to check out the new inflight entertainment system on New Zealand's first Boeing 787-9 which is running a pre-release version of the new software.

There are high-definition touchscreens from tip to tail of the Boeing 787-9, from the 11 inch displays in business class (and premium economy)...

... to the smaller 9 inch panels in the economy cabin.

Here are ten things we love about Air New Zealand's new inflight entertainment system, especially on the Boeing 787-9.

1. Simplicity

The new user interface is inspired by smartphone and tablet apps with large self-explanatory buttons that almost invite you to tap them and see where they take you.

This makes the system more 'discoverable' – users are more likely to explore the content because of the familiar design.

2. Browse by genre, not by medium

Let's say you're in the mood to watch some comedy, drama or action. Why should you have to plough through those categories for movies and TV shows separately?

AirNZ's new system lets you see all relevant programs on a single screen.

3. Cool new channels

Come to think of it, why should you have to think in terms of genre? So Air New Zealand has added Chick Flicks and Man Cave 'channels'.

There's also a dedicated channel for HBO shows such as Game of Thrones.

(How you deal with the ample nudity in this epic series is another matter.)

4. Swipe your way through content

The software's tap-to-keep-browsing buttons have been replaced by simple swipe gestures so you can simply flick your way up and down through movies, TV shows, music and more.

This works a treat on the responsive touchscreens of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

5. Your flight at your fingertips

This small button at the top of the screen contains your flight number and the time remaining until you reach your destination.

Of course, the standard array of moving maps and (depending on your aircraft) live camera views are all just a tap away.

6. System-wide search 

Start typing in the Video or Music search box and you'll see a list of all matching content, even if your taste is somewhat questionable.

The more letters you type, the more specific the search becomes.

In this case, I can see that Air New Zealand doesn't have any episodes of Downton Abbey on hand but it's got several movies and TV shows containing the word 'down' as well as two shows starring Robert Downey Jnr.

7. Pop-up menu

This handy menu slides up from the bottom of any screen to provide instant access to the most commonly-used selections.

8. Call the crew

The crew call button is perhaps our favourite feature in the new inflight system because it does more than just summon a flight attendant to your seat.

Want something simple, like a glass of water or any arrival documents? There's a button for that, and when you tap it an onscreen message lets you know what will happen next.

Hungry or thirsty? You can order some food or drink straight from the onscreen menu.

You can also pose a question directly to the cabin crew using a chat system.

There's even a 'Do Not Disturb' mode to ensure you're not woken by the crew offering meals or refreshments.

9. Seat tutorials

If you've not flown in Air New Zealand business class, premium economy or even economy before, fire up these video tutorials to learn about your seat's functions and how to make the most of it.

10. TripAdvisor destination guides

When Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 begins its Auckland-Perth flights in October 2014 the inflight system will include a dedicated TripAdvisor app with information about each city which the airline flies to, so travellers can do some last-minute research on the way there.

Air New Zealand plans to add other apps to the inflight system in the months to follow.

Australian Business Traveller is attending the Boeing 787-9 launch in Seattle as a guest of Air New Zealand and Boeing.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

11inch screen in Business (same as Premium Eco)...that's a bit 'stingy' ...and 9inch in Economy...By comparrison, the QF a330 refurbs starting the end of 2014, will feature 16inch in Business and 11inch in Economy..(even the a380 has 12inch in Business).. Not to mention the myriad of other airlines' who currently have 16inch or larger screens in Business, and 11inch in Economy

Air Canada - Aeroplan

07 Apr 2014

Total posts 6

I might be wrong, but I think it has to do with the Pod design - 11" is the maximum. Where as newer designs have 15" + minimum for J.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

i realize they need to 'fit' into a recess in the pods side wall when stowed, so whoever designed this NEW/updated pod, clearly neglected to 'design' a larger recess for a larger recess/screen (there can be enough room for a larger recess)...not good forward thinking, as these NEW pods will be around for many future years.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 116

I believe the quality of the screen resolution is far more important than screen size. The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class screens (same seat design etc) and their screen resolution is like watching a VHS tape from 1987. Atleast NZ have high def resolution.

I haven't flown Air NZ in a long time however I think they are a leading international airline and are dynamic, innovative and appear to be lead by a good management team.  

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 654

i actually agree with you '180mins'...i will never understand why someone needs a big(ger) 12-24inch screen that is around 2-3feet in front of you, regardless of's societies obsession with 'big sreen' everything!!!!.. along with the airline industry (especially those in the middle east/ and some asia regions) that also have this 'mindset' that bigger is better...(no wonder so many people wear glasses) ...hmmmmmm

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 94

I also tend to agree. When the screen is right in front of me (regardless of flying business, premium or economy, at most it'll be a few feet), 10-14" is definitely ample, and the resolution, content and responsiveness is much more important.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787-9 inflight entertainment system