What do you do if you’re about to launch a new 16-hour flight to a market where you have little presence?
If you’re Air New Zealand, you bring in a bunch of shipping containers for a special pop-up event at the base of a landmark skyscraper. At the center of it all is what the carrier bills as a “one-of-a-kind infinity room” that aims to make visitors feel as though they’ve been transported to New Zealand and Australia.
That’s what Air New Zealand has planned for Chicago, where the carrier is looking to drum up awareness for its Nov. 30 launch of nonstop service between Chicago O’Hare and its main hub in Auckland, New Zealand.
From Thursday through Saturday, the Air New Zealand-branded shipping containers will be open to the public in downtown Chicago. Visitors to the pop-up exhibit – located on the plaza at the base of Chicago’s historic Tribune Tower – will be able to step inside and check out the Air New Zealand infinity room.
The mirrored room – similar ones have become viral hits at the Smithsonian and other museums during the past year – are intended to make guests feel as though they’ve stepped into one of New Zealand’s signature landscapes or into a quintessential scene from Australia.
Beyond the infinity room, another of the Air New Zealand shipping containers will contain a mockup of the airline’s distinctive Economy Skycouch. Customers purchasing the Skycouch option get three seats toward the front of economy on Air New Zealand’s long-haul Boeing 777 and 787-9 jets; the seats can be folded down into a couch-like position that gives passengers extra space – or the option to lie down – during the flight.
A third container on display by Air New Zealand in Chicago will offer tastings of New Zealand-inspired refreshments. On the menu: New Zealand wine, a selection of New Zealand cheeses that are paired with Mānuka Honey, a signature Flat White coffee and a specially crafted kiwi fruit flavored gelato.
“We are thrilled to showcase New Zealand and Australia in downtown Chicago and give visitors the opportunity to unpack our Kiwi culture, explore the beautiful landscapes of destinations we fly to and get a sneak peek of flying with Air New Zealand,” Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand General Manager of Global Brand and Content Marketing, says in a statement. “We hope that through the event more Chicagoans will see why we believe we are a better way to fly.”
The goal, of course, is to lure customers onto Air New Zealand’s new Chicago flights.
The airline will fly three flights a week on the route, which will become one of the longest regularly scheduled airline flights in the world. The flights cover a distance of about 8,185 miles and would rank among the 20 longest in the world, according to data provided to USA TODAY by flight data service firm OAG.
Air New Zealand says flight time for its new Chicago-Auckland route will be approximately 15 hours northbound and just over 16 hours southbound.
TODAY IN THE SKY: The world's 25 longest airline flights