New Zealand’s national carrier Air New Zealand knows flying can be stressful, especially when you’re heading for the farthest reaches of the Earth -- like New Zealand.
So it smooths your journey with more than just the country’s superb wines. Its quirky take on in-flight hospitality begins with cheeky safety-instruction videos that have featured hobbits, Bear Grylls, Betty White and, most recently, the national rugby team doing a Men in Black–inspired rap. Economy fliers can buy a Skycouch -- essentially, three coach seats that convert, futon-like, into the closest thing you’ll get to a lie-flat bed in cattle class on any airline. It recently introduced facial-recognition software that uses your passport photo to ease the process of luggage drop-off. A mobile app now automatically asks passengers for their coffee orders as soon as they enter the airline’s lounge. It’s experimenting with new technology to track bags. And all signs point to a continued commitment to the cutting edge: The company recently poached an Amazon executive to lead its innovation team.