With a better-controlled climate, Air New Zealand's new plane is a dream ride, says Megan Singleton.
She's been 10 years in gestation, but Air New Zealand proudly took delivery of the world's first 787-9 model of the Dreamliner earlier this month. I got to fly home on the inaugural delivery flight and noticed lots of snazzy features.
First impressions are of the new-plane smell of leather seats and carpet that has not yet been covered in food or people. But it was the relative silence of the takeoff that had me marking up my first tick. This is all to do with chevrons and other aviation wizardry. Translated, it meant that when I commented, using just my inside voice, on how quiet it was, a colleague sitting five seats across at the window turned and nodded.
At 30 per cent bigger than those of other aircraft, these windows allow even those sitting in the middle a view of the world whizzing by. They also don't have pull-down shades. Instead there is a button under each where you can alter the tint in five stages ranging from clear glass, through shades of blue and green, to black.
This is genius. For wheelchair-bound passengers who can't walk to the loo, there is a chair onboard and the crew can push open the adjoining panel between the two centre toilets to create a wide open space - and two lavvies to take your pick. Fortunately it requires a key so you don't need to fear being presented to the world if you happen to be doing your business on the other side.
Humidity and pressure
With higher humidity (set to 15 percent rather than the usual four percent) I noticed the difference mainly in my hands - they didn't dry out - and also my very scientific test on my hair that had body and a little curl upon landing 14 hours after departure. The cabin pressure, set at 6000ft rather than 8000ft, also contributes to an overall better feeling. I have had no jetlag.
Larger 11-inch screens are in Business and Premium Economy (9-inch in Economy) and are operated like a tablet. Just swipe through 150 movie titles, 800 TV shows and loads of music. You can also shuffle your own playlist, send a message to the cabin crew if you need anything and with a tap of the finger, order a sauvignon blanc to your seat.
Click here to see Megan's photo blog from inside the Dreamliner 787-9.