Delegates at TravelManagers annual national conference in Ōtautahi Christchurch learned plenty about Air New Zealand’s extensive program of cabin reconfigurations, seating improvements and designs for the near future.
Air New Zealand’s head of aircraft programs, Kerry Reeves, and senior program manager, Louise Leaupepe, outlined the coming changes. They entail one of the carrier’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners being reconfigured with “the lowest seat count of any 787 in the world”.
Reeves said that from the end of next year, one of the airline’s 787s would be explicitly refitted to target the east coast of the US. The big aircraft would have even fewer seats than the airline’s Airbus 321neo planes, which operate across the Tasman with 214 seats. On the 787, 42 seats will be Business Premier business class, and 52 will be premium economy.
Reeves said that 20% of Air New Zealand travellers flew business, and the airline’s new Business Premier suited them perfectly. Its leather seat transforms into a lie-flat bed, “longest in the world”, with a memory foam mattress, two full-size pillows and a duvet. The seats also have wireless device charging and a 24” video screen with Bluetooth audio streaming.
This will be on sale from mid-2024.
Great interest continues in Air New Zealand’s innovative Economy Skynest airborne bunk-bed set-up, due to be launched on the carrier’s ultra-long-haul flights, starting with the famous Auckland-New York and Auckland-Chicago routes.
The Skynest is a six-pod configured sleep zone offering sessions for economy passengers to lie down when travelling long haul. It will be available from September 2024.
Each pod will include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, a separate reading light, a personal device USB outlet, a ventilation outlet, and lighting designed for rest.
Each passenger will be limited to one session, with families travelling on the same ticket able to book a session for each passenger, pending availability. Skynest allows economy passengers to lie flat and rest during longer flights.
The Skynest will be located between Premium Economy and Economy, and each pod will come with a separate seatbelt to ensure passengers can fasten them and stay in the pod should the seat belt sign come on during turbulence. The bedding will be changed between sessions, and a 30-minute transition time will be allowed. The lights will gently come on at the end of each session, and the crew will politely wake any passengers who sleep through this.
The airline is finalising the exact details of how the booking process will work and has yet to determine the price, though it’s looking at about NZ$400 to NZ$600 for the four-hour period.”
Written by: Peter Needham
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