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The software's tap-to-keep-browsing buttons have been replaced by simple swipe gestures so you can simply flick your way up and down through movies, TV shows, music and more.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