When it comes to a long-haul flight to New Zealand, the thought of 24 hours in an up-right economy seat is enough to make anyone shudder. But economy-class passengers will soon have the chance to lie flat like their fellow travellers in business and first.
Air New Zealand unveiled plans to introduce “beds” in economy class, in what it called the first major improvement in economy class travel comfort in 20 years.
Developed in-house by the airline’s designers and engineers, the 22 “Skycouches” will take up the first 11 rows in the economy cabin of the carrier’s new Boeing 777-300 planes, and will be formed out of three economy seats abreast that fold out to create a lie-flat space (complete with full size pillows) stretching right up to the seats in front. The increased space could also provide a valuable play and sleep area for those travelling with small children. For two adults travelling, purchasing the Skycouch will be based on buying two seats at standard prices with the third seat at approximately half price. Full airfare details will be announced when it goes on sale in late April.
“For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone,” Chief Executive Officer Rob Fyfe told reporters.
The first routes to offer travellers the Skycouch will be between Auckland and Los Angeles from December 2010 and Auckland and London from April 2011.