Even though domestic airlines seem to be cramming us in like sardines and charging us for meals and baggage these days some long haul carriers are focusing on passenger comfort. Now you don’t have to fly business or First anymore to enjoy more space and better food. One such airline is Air New Zealand and this all started when they launched their Premium Economy fares which offered better seats with more pitch and better food a few years back. Because these seats were often the first to sell out on their flights they have expanded on it. There are now more premium economy seats on more of their flights and on the new Boeing 777’s they have introduced the new Space Seat in Premium Economy.
The Space Seat offers allot more personal space, 50% more than regular economy. It provides lots of personal storage for small electronics, a table between the seats that can be lowered to make room for your feet if you want to curl up. It even has a bean bag foot rest that cuddles your feet during the flight. The seat in front of you does not recline so your space is not imposed on like the traditional economy seats. Because of the orientation of the seats (they are angled) no more getting out of your seat to let the inside person out to go to the washroom. And, no more praying for the person seated on the aisle next to you to wake up so you can go to the washroom. The Inner Space Seat is ideal for couples and the Outer Space Seat for those travelling on their own. Premium Economy comes in less than half the cost of Business Premier. My advice on booking Premium Economy is don’t delay these seats are very popular and sell out quickly.
Air New Zealand didn’t stop there though they wanted something that could work for families or for those couples who really wanted to cuddle at 35,000 ft over the South Pacific Ocean. They’ve introduce Sky Couch otherwise known as “Cuddle Class”. Basically it is three Economy seats together that have foot rests that fold upwards level with the seat and flush to the back of the seat in front of you. The armrests lift into the back of seat making a flat bed, voila Cuddle Class! This works great for a parent with 2 small kids; they have room to spread out their coloring books and stuff toys. And when it comes to nap time mom or dad does not have to sacrifice their lap to the much desired sleeping child. Please note the Sky Couch is not offered on all of Air New Zealand’s aircraft, it is currently only on the B-777-300ER which operates between Los Angeles and Auckland.
A short video on the Space Seat and Sky Couch, http://youtu.be/P4AC2CFDrnM
And by the way, Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch Economy seat has won the Aviation category in Conde Nast Traveller’s 2011 Innovation and Design Awards.
Quite frankly I think Air New Zealand should have won an award for “Most Fun Safety Video” featuring the one and only Richard Simmons!
Denise Gushue – CTC