Air New Zealand to offer lie-down seating in economy class

Air New Zealand passengers will be able to lie flat in economy class when the airline’s new Boeing 777-300 aircraft comes into operation next year.

The airline revealed prototype designs for economy, premium economy and business premier travel in Auckland this week.

The new Skycouch seat in the economy cabin is a row of three seats with fold-out supports that allow passengers to lie flat across the three seats.

The facility offers enough space for two adults to lie flat out or for one adult and two children.

Two adults would buy two seats at normal prices and the third seat at about half price.

For an adult travelling with two children, the cost would be £89 (NZ$200) extra.

A total of 22 sets of Skycouch seats will be available, taking up the first 11 window rows in the economy cabin.

Group general manager Ed Simms said the new option gave agents a “huge opportunity”.

“We are working hard with the global distribution systems to make sure Skycouch becomes a defined proposition,” he said.

“We’ve noticed with premium economy you can’t categorise the people who will upgrade. Now there are no limitations on who you can upsell to.”

Premium economy has also been redesigned with a 2-2-2 rather than 3-3-3 formation, giving customers more personal space.

Simms said: “The centre seats are designed for couples who are comfortable reclining together and eating together on a centre consul. The outside seats are for customers who want more privacy.”

The business premier flatbeds have thicker mattresses and the cabin has a redesigned colour scheme. Passengers in this cabin will also be able to order drinks and snack using their in-flight entertainment systems. Meals will be served from an oven which allows cabin crew to cook food normally instead of reheating it.

The new Boeing 777-300 goes on sale in April this year and the airline will host a programme of agent educationals.

Air New Zealand plans to refit its fleet of eight Boeing 777-200s from the middle of next year, with all Asian, North American and UK services to have the product by 2012.


Video: Air New Zealand long-haul experience

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