Airline reviews Air New Zealand Entertainment Seatback TV

Air New Zealand Inflight Entertainment - Kia Ora / Kupe

NEWS: Air New Zealand is moving to a new type of inflight entertainment system. The new AVOD system is a vast improvement on the previous generation Kia Ora system, being faster and offering better features, including the ability to order inflight meals from your seat.

Boeing 747-400 Business class Headphones Sept 2005 KiaOra AVOD welcome Screen

Air New Zealand is rapidly changing it's inflight entertainment system, and the difference can be huge - from dire or non-existent, to the new high quality video on demand system, AVOD.

Whether you get a seatback TV on an Air New Zealand flight depends on the type of plane you are on, however Air New Zealand have seatback TVs in all classes on all long-haul flights using 747s and 777s. Here Economy and Premium Economy gets a 8.4" seatback video screen, and small overhead band headphones (for free) while Business Premier has a 10.4" screen, and large noise cancellation headphones.

The three alternatives are:

Kube - Air New Zealand IFE

Boeing 747-400 Business class Headphones Sept 2009 Headphones Business Class

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ERs offer Kupe. It is excellent, and is the latest AVOD (video on demand) system for Air New Zealand. It is a true touchscreen, and very responsive. There is a nav bar at the bottom of the screen, to select films, TV, and even Youtube (you can upload your own videos for people to watch in flight). Films (or Movies, if you are from the US) are sub-divided into Genres. Touch it, and the film description appears, you can watch the trailer and then the film. Fast forward and reverse buttons are on the screen, although this can be a real pain in economy, as the passenger behind you stabs the screen.
Boeing 747-400 Economy class Headphones Sept 2009 Headphones Economy Class

Music videos are there too, and CDs too (again, select them on the scrolly menu at the bottom. There are some games, but they are pretty poor. Getting to the map is very annoying: you have to scroll back to my flight, and it's very slow. The best bit is what's called "Refreshment at the touch of a button". It shows with a timeline when the meal services are, and when you can request a snack. Just touch the bar marked menu, and it comes up with the choices. The inflight bar is under drinks, but oddly it will sometimes only come up with beer or spirits. Of course the Kupe entertainment system needs a box to run it, and in economy that is in a thin black box by the seat pillars: at least it has a curved top so you don't bang your leg against it.

Air New Zealand Inflight Entertainment IFE TV screen and controller on a Boeing 777 in Business Class, Jun 2011
Inflight Entertainment TV screen and controller on a Boeing 777 in Business Class

Kia Ora - Air New Zealand IFE

Air New Zealand older Boeing 777-200ERs and the remaining Boeing 747 offer Kia Ora. This is very much the first generation of AVOD systems. You can start, stop, and rewind films & TV shows. The only annoyance is the rather slow response and the painful levels of menus you have to go through. Getting to the inflight map is a notoriously tedious process, and really not worth it unless you get desperate.

If you want to, you can just flick through the mainscreen channels to see what's on, but it's rather a waste. On the 777 and 747, the handset has two options for stopping and starting the films: either go through the on screen menus (press Menu on the handset), or press up to pause, left & right for FF and rewind, and down to stop (and for the menu). On the 767 the handset actually looks like a proper TV remote control.

Mainscreen IFE

Boeing 747-400 moving map Sept 2005 IFE Moving map

A few of Air New Zealand older Boeing 767s and many of the Airbus A320 offer a fold out TV screen for Business, and a Mainscreen option for economy, with just a 1980s style projection screen at the front of the cabin. However it is very rare to get this type of screen, and all will be replaced with AVOD very shortly.

A real perk on Air New Zealand is that the AVOD is switched on while you are on the ground, so you can watch TV even while the aircraft is boarding. This may sound trivial, but actually it is a huge perk as it means you can watch two complete films on Trans-Tasman services.

The film selection is pretty good. There are 26 new release movies with 13 main films, or which about 4 are current cinema offerings, and 4 will be New Zealand titles.

Business class 767 Nov 2007 IFE in 767 Business Class

There are plenty of shorter things to watch, with 14 comedy TV shows, some sports shows, several really good nature documentaries and 9 children's cartoons. There is the usual moving map - with the new "behind the plane" view - and 15 games, which all seem to load pretty fast.
Business class Panasonic DVD Nov 2007 DVD in A320 Business Class

On the few A320 aircraft that still offer Business Class to Australia and some south Pacific islands you get an individual handheld Panasonic DVD, and the crew bring round a library of fifteen movie titles and ten audio channels. However, again, all A320s used on long-haul will have AVOD soon, but Business Class will be scrapped.

There is no entertainment on Domestic flights, however the scenery in New Zeland often makes up for it: on the south island, check out the Alps as they wizz past you - and not that far below you either, they are pretty high. Up north, the bays and islands make a facinating sight.

Business class 767 IFE Nov 2009 New IFE handset on a 767

Air New Zealand Inflight Magazine - Kia Ora

The inflight magazine on Air New Zealand is called Kia Ora, and it's quite a decent read: as it should be; on the 30 hour trek to the UK there is little to do on the planes, and you may be very glad of something to read.

There are the usual travel articles (one on KiwiLand, the other on Blighty, and a third that seems to vary between Pacific islands and the US), an interview with a Kiwi, and Kiwi products reviewed (there is a theme developing here). Fleet information, a decent map, and a listing of the TV programmes is at the back of the mag.

Air New Zealand Inflight Magazine - Kia Ora - on a Boeing 747, Jun 2011
Kia Ora The Inflight Magazine on the magazine shelf of an AirNZ 747 in business Class

For a while Air New Zealand tried to be inovative, and removed the inflight magazine from the seatbacks on international flights, and keep it for domestic services. However, this has now been reversed - in part. The magazine is once again there, but you've got to hunt for it. Sometimes, it will be in the seatback pocket, but the rest of the time, particularly in business class, you need to go to the inflight magazine rack to find it.

Air New Zealand IFE entertainment guide in economy Dec 2011
TV Guide IFE entertainment guide in economy

On international services there is a separate very small pamflet called Kia Ora Entertainment which lists the films on AVOD; it is rather pointless as the films are listed on the AVOD system too, but as AVOD is so slow on some of the older 777s, it is useful to have it to thumb through. The back of this also includes the in-bites inflight food menu.

Incidentally, Kia Ora is a Mãori language greeting which has entered mainstream New Zealand English. It means literally "be well and healthy", or in Australian "G'day!". It has some significance as showing an agreement with a speaker at a meeting, as part of the Kiwi culture which prizes oratory. It is many things, but what it is not is the Kia-Ora soft drink, made in the UK by Coke.