Trying to sleep in an upright position on long haul flights can prove to be a difficult proposition for most of us, and a sleepless flight only compounds the jet lag that results from traversing time zones. With just about any International flight to or from New Zealand being a long haul affair it’s not surprising that the country’s international airline, Air New Zealand, is looking to make such trips a little more comfortable for passengers through a redesign of seating in economy class. The result - you can lie down!
The airline has unveiled a specially designed row of three seats called a "Skycouch" that has been engineered to create a lie-flat, flexible space that extends all the way to the seat-back in front. Air New Zealand says this space will provide a place for kids to play, or the holy grail of economy travel – a flat surface for adults to lie down and sleep.
The new seating will be implemented on the airline’s first new Boeing 777-300 ER, which is scheduled for delivery in November this year. The 340 seat 777-300 aircraft will be configured with 50 in Premium Economy, 44 in Business Premier and 246 in Economy, which includes twenty-two sets of Skycouch seats that are located in the first eleven window rows in the Economy Class cabin.
For two adults traveling, purchasing the Skycouch will be based on buying two seats at standard prices with the third seat at approximately half price. This means that solo travelers will be faced with a hefty ticket price unless they are seated next to two empty seats or one empty seat and another accommodating passenger. Full airfare details will be announced when the new seating options go on sale from Air New Zealand in late April.
Having just endured a sleepless fifteen hour flight, I can only hope other long haul carriers take a leaf out of Air New Zealand’s book and make these flights a more enjoyable experience for economy class travelers.