Air New Zealand offers help in the air

30 Apr 2008 by business traveller

This month, Air New Zealand (NZ) becomes the first airline to offer an inflight concierge service to its passengers. The carrier says it has seen “huge” interest in the innovative posts and has spent the last few months whittling down 500 potential candidates to the 40 employees who will launch the service.

ANZ deputy CEO Norm Thompson said: “We’ve had interest from candidates including school teachers, café and restaurant owners, senior hotel concierges, crew members and even sales staff. We’ve also had a lot of interest from tourism operators, who have provided us with a mass of information for the concierges.”

The airline says the onboard concierges will be available to all passengers, and will have diverse duties ranging from recommending must-do Kiwi activities, to assisting with onward bookings, supporting those affected by weather disruption, advising them on managing their Airpoints, and talking through the finer points of inflight wine choices.

Thompson said: “As technology develops, they might even be able to make restaurant bookings for passengers from the plane. The concierges will be available to answer queries on a one-to-one basis, something that cabin staff are not always able to do when there are 350 passengers onboard.”

Thompson said that the concierges would work in conjunction with the flight-service manager, but would not be involved with tasks such as meal duties or safety announcements. They will be introduced to passengers at the beginning of flights and will wear a different uniform from cabin staff so as to stand out.

Thompson added that 60 to 70 percent of the service’s focus will be on New Zealand, with flights between Auckland and Los Angeles seeing onboard concierges from this month.

London is also in the process of recruiting, with plans to have concierges onboard flights ex-Heathrow from July.

The service is just one way that ANZ is aiming to “do things a bit differently” and thus compete with larger long-haul carriers. ANZ offers a round-the-world service (pioneered by the defunct Pan Am), with passengers able to circumvent the globe with stops in London, Hongkong, Auckland, LA and back to London all with ANZ. As Thompson put it: “For a relatively small carrier, these services make us look bigger.”

Mark Caswell

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