Air New Zealand wins major awards

by Christine Forbes Smith
July 20, 2021
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand’s award winning premium economy offers the most legroom. Credit: Supplied The interior of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Seattle Washington. (Bret Hartman/Air New Zealand)

Six times Airline of the Year winner Air New Zealand has won Best Long-Haul Airline Pacific, Best Premium Economy, and Best Economy and named 2nd in the Top Twenty Airlines for 2021 in the Airline Excellence Awards.

Air New Zealand is widely recognized as an airline that punches way above its weight globally and is a carrier to watch when it comes to innovation. Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas commented: “It is one of the few airlines in the world to have an investment-grade credit rating, is a staunch supporter of its home country, and has been enjoying a healthy expansion in both its domestic and international markets up to COVID-19. Its overall product is superb, and its business class bed is outstanding.” names its Top Twenty names its Top Ten Low-Cost Airlines

It is also a keen supporter of sustainability and has also been exploring how digitization can help make life better for passengers.

And, of course, it continues to pump out the legendary safety videos that have spawned many imitators around the world.

The unique Kiwi alchemy that has repeatedly broken new product ground is again being practiced in a bunker in Auckland so expect to hear more from Air New Zealand in the not too distant future.

During the pandemic, the Air New Zealand employees have risen above and beyond with many staff spending time in quarantine to keep services going and to repatriate New Zealanders.

Others have worked hours in full PPE looking after customers and continuing to provide the world-class experience the airline has become known for.

Some pilots, in particular, have spent almost a third of a year in quarantine so that international connections can be maintained.

New chief executive Greg Foran and his team have skillfully navigated the COVID shutdowns and restrictions to have an airline that is as vibrant today as it was before the pandemic.


Air New Zealand has been a frontrunner when it comes to premium economy, and the product has garnered a slew of awards, including our Best Premium Economy 2021.


Air New Zealand coronavirus capacity

Air New Zealand shines regarding legroom with a generous 41-inch seat pitch (104.1cm) and a 19.3-inch seat width with a nine-inch recline and a five-inch wide armrest.

Premium economy passengers get a priority check-in, two pieces of checked luggage (up to 23kg each) and two pieces of carry-on weighing up to 7kg each.

There’s a USB power connector, a universal power, and an 11-inch high-definition touchscreen that allows passengers to access more than 1,700 hours of entertainment. Air New Zealand usually has a pretty good selection, so there’s no problem finding something to watch.

There are also noise-canceling headphones, a dedicated cabin member as well as decent food and wine from a premium economy menu.

Other extras include an amenity kit on long-haul flights as well as extras such as hot towels.

Some carriers are only now coming to grips with the increasing popularity of premium economy, and if they want to find someone to emulate, Air New Zealand would be the one.


Air New Zealand has picked up this award for its continued focus on increasing the comfort of passengers in economy class.

The airline’s SkyCouch is still streets ahead of anything in the market and represents superb value for money.

Its meal service in economy is also of a very high standard.

The Airline Excellence Awards, judged by editors with over 100 years of industry experience, combines significant safety and government audits, with 11 key criteria that include: fleet age, passenger reviews, investment rating, product offerings, and staff relations.

Only airlines with a seven-star safety rating qualify for the award.