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Jan 26, 2010

Air NZ goes flat out in economy

A sensational new idea in economy class seating was shown off by Air New Zealand this morning. It turns 22 sets of triple seats in its new Boeing 777-300ERs into an optional doub

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Flat out and united on Air NZ, publicity image
Flat out and united on Air NZ, publicity image

A sensational new idea in economy class seating was shown off by Air New Zealand this morning.

It turns 22 sets of triple seats in its new Boeing 777-300ERs into an optional double sleeping space, with conversion of all its recently delivered 777s to offer this format in the near future.

A detailed report has just appeared in the New Zealand media.

Each of these triple sets, the first 11 window sets on each side of the cabin, costs around 2.5 times a standard economy fare. The value proposition can be calibrated from the report, which quotes a set, shared by two people, as costing around $NZ 7600 for a return flight to London, compared to $NZ 6000 for a single seat in a revamped premium economy product, or $NZ 10,000 in an ‘improved’ version of its current premium business class sleeper seats.

(And for sure, those fares seem rather less than they would be from Australia, but they are in NZ dollars and don’t seem to include taxes and levies.)

So couples, or maybe one big passenger who wants to save on a business class sleeper, can save a lot of money by buying three economy seats with a design that fills in the floor space with a reasonably level sleeping base.

This design is like a call to arms, no, a call to legs, for the travel masses, those downtrodden, spurned, crushed and despised inhabitants of what some jerks in airline marketing patronisingly call ‘cattle class’. Air NZ has struck a blow for relevancy, and deserves some sort of humanitarian recognition for getting their priorities aligned with the needs of the oppressed masses.

New premium economy is the roomiest ever in a 777
New premium economy is the roomiest ever in a 777

It will be interesting to see how this works for the premium economy product, (above), which has been upgraded to a six-across format in three sets of wide double seats with a slight herringbone offset that appears to increase legroom but not convert into a flat bed.

The changes to the premium business class sleeper are overdue (below) but for my money, a seat that doesn’t allow a proper window view is disconcerting, and while it trumps the much criticised dimensions of similar seats on Cathay Pacific jets, it doesn’t appear space competitive against the Singapore Airlines long haul business class.

No window, no cigar...but looks better, the Air NZ premium sleeper
No window, no cigar...but looks better, the Air NZ premium sleeper

Now, how do consumers go about persuading Air New Zealand to resume non-stop flights to the US from Australia with the economy sleeper option?

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