Introducing Air New Zealand’s economy service and the Economy Skycouch

As part of our Air New Zealand competition, which launches today, I will be taking a look at the unique features of the ANZ in-flight product. This is what you will experience if you choose to fly them from London to Los Angeles and, optionally, on to Auckland.

Air New Zealand runs a three-class service out of Heathrow, consisting of:

Economy, including the patented Economy Skycouch

Premium Economy, featuring the impressive Premium Economy Spaceseat, a substantial step up from the BA and Virgin premium economy options in my view, and

Business Premier

In the current Air New Zealand sale, which ends on 23rd September, prices start at £449 for Economy, £870 for Premium Economy and £2,327 for Business Premier.

In this article, I want to focus on their Economy service and the Economy Skycouch. This is, after all, the prize that one Head for Points reader will be winning. Articles on Business Premier and Premium Economy will follow over the next couple of weeks.

It wasn’t practical for me to fly to Los Angeles and check out their seats and service for myself. Air New Zealand did arrange the next best thing, however. I was given a private tour of their new Boeing 777-300 aircraft whilst it was on the ground at Heathrow.

Air New Zealand 777-300

The 777-300 has 244 economy seats in a 3-4-3 formation. seatguru.com gives a seat width of 17.1 inches and a pitch of 32-33 inches. The width is slightly narrow than a British Airways 777-300 which is nine across, but this is partially offset by additional legroom.

Other key features of the ANZ economy product include:

Armrests which disappear fully into the back of the seat, allowing additional space for couples and groups

10.6″ TV screen with over 1,700 hours of content including TV, box sets, films and video games

USB and iPhone / iPod connections

On-screen snack ordering. I was impressed by this – if you are feeling peckish between meals, you can order a variety of snacks via your TV and the crew will deliver them to your seat. I’d be happy to see this in Business or First Class, to be honest, so to find it in Economy was pleasantly surprising.

The Air New Zealand economy seat is profiled on their website here.

Air New Zealand promo food

The key differentiator with other airlines, however, is the patented Economy Skycouch.

The Skycouch is installed on rows 37 to 46, which is the ‘front’ economy cabin immediately behind Premium Economy. This means that there are 20 Skycouches in total, 10 of each side of the aircraft in the block of three seats by the window.

Here is an animation of the Skycouch in action:

SkycouchFoldout (2)

and here are some far less professional images that I took:

Skycouch 1

and in couch mode:

Skycouch 2

The Skycouch allows a 3-seat block of economy seats to be converted into a flat surface measuring 74cm x 155cm.

There are a number of ways in which you can use the Skycouch, and any combination will be available for the winner of our competition.

A family of two adults and one child can reserve a Skycouch for an additional £100 for the group

A couple can reserve a Skycouch for an additional £299 per couple. This guarantees an empty middle seat as well as the ability to turn the seats into a couch.

A solo traveller can reserve a Skycouch from £599. This guarantees the traveller two empty adjacent seats and the ability to turn the seats into a couch.

These prices are each way, based on travel from Heathrow to Los Angeles.

You can find out more about the Economy Skycouch on the Air New Zealand website here.

As a member of Star Alliance, you will also collect miles and status points with any Star Alliance loyalty programme when you fly Air New Zealand.

If this sounds interesting, you can win your own Skycouch flight to Los Angeles in our competition which launches today.

'Credit Cards' page updated for September - summary of the top deals
Bits: Finnair from Edinburgh, fixed Gett taxi fares, Nectar / Nero deal, INNSIDE Manchester deal
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Comments

  1. Hmm, I think this competition might be best suited to hobbits and small children, and perhaps smooching couples who want to stay close and don’t mind getting all tangled up. Pity we did not get to see a picture of you personally demonstrating the skycouch!

  2. I’m deeply confused by this sky couch… can you explain how it works?

    Mainly – why would a family of 2 adults and 1 child want to use a ‘Skycouch’? How exactly do they use it? I can see it for a solo traveller (cost seems high) but how are you meant to use this as a couple or group of 3?! I’m actually having a good laugh right now trying to picture it!

    • I found myself so intrigued by this that I had to do some more research. Know it would have been an undertaking but I really think you should have given this a real go before reviewing it, Raffles.

      Turns out the couches are 5’1″ in length. I’m still trying to work out how 2 or 3 people share one of these?! Even alone – does the cabin resemble some sort of catacomb with limbs hanging across the aisle throughout the flight?

      It just sounds like an utterly ridiculous idea on the surface. So ridiculous that I might have to give this a go.

      • I think Rob once posted he was 6’3. I think what he doesn’t say is more important than what he does. However, to be fair the skycouch was a novel idea and has its uses. I believe it has already been licensed by at least one other airline but I cannot remember which. The concept might have been better accommodated at the back of Y cabin where plane narrows as 2 blocks of 4 seats with a single central aisle and greater pitch to provide both better legroom, a larger skycouch, or tge option for a family of four to sit together in greater confort. Skycouch is really more suited to a solo traveller who doesn’t mind curling up to sleep BUT price no longer works in an era of cheap J sales to USA.

  3. Not sure I understand the benefits of the skycouch concept either – you have to purchase 3 economy seats to sleep fetal-style in a 5′ bed? Surely it’ll be more worthwhile to go for a business seat if you really want to sleep?

  4. It is innovative I suppose, thx for the prize Rob, not one for me but very nice and well done, good luck to all of you, A HFP reader will fly FREE to LA! (Watch and learn Avios points)

    And that is nice!

    • Not one for me either (no kids and ex-EU fares in biz too appealing!) but well done on getting that prize for the site, Rob. I flew Air NZ Business Premier before as a bmi redemption LHR-LAX and very nice it was too!

      • I’ll be doing a feature on that in a couple of weeks. What is very impressive (compared to BA and Virgin) is the Premium Economy product.

        • I can confirm this. As a PE traveller for the last 10 years the trip tp LA on Air NZ was the best flight we have ever taken. On the 777-300 the spaceseats are amazing. They recline in their own space, so no one reclining into you and they are really spacious. Also the lamb shanks we had were the best food we’ve ever had. In the PE cabin there is a large toilet which the cabin crew referred to as the “disco toilet” which made us smile. Similar to other posts on the skycouch above the price we paid for these seats last year are equivalent to ex-EU fares so i’m not sure anyone on here will be interested, also ANZ has already moved away from these seats to more traditional PE seats in it’s new planes. Adrian

        • To be clear: do ANZ have anything that isn’t impressive compared to BA?!

          • The business class is the Virgin one, so you get privacy and solo seats but the odd herringbone layout. Horses for courses on that.

            You need to remember that BA and ANZ serve different markets. They are creating in-flight products for very long segments. BA does a lot of 6-7 hour flights and those are where it makes its money. They don’t feel the need to run an ANZ type service.

            However, for the record, I also put Qatar, Emirates, Etihad and Singapore (all of whom I have flown in the last 12 months) above BA! I was less keen on Air Canada as you will read tomorrow.

    • I have decided not to enter competitions where I do not want the prize as, knowing my luck, that is the only one that I would win.

      • cheekychappie says:

        I won an iPad mini the other day :)

        • Rather you than me!

        • that’s the sort of prize that I mean!

          • cheekychappie says:

            Keeping it for an Xmas pressie!

            Lucky on the tablets:

            Blackberry camera went wrong so they gave me back £70 (only cost £120 in the first place)

            Kindle – free with a course I took

            iPad – free as my son has a disability

            mini iPad – free – thanks Nescafe Shakissimo! :)

            4 to the good so far lol

  5. 10 across in Y is to avoided at all costs whenever possible, especially the middle seats.
    I appreciate that Y travel is as good as it get for some however this site usually focuses on premium travel and how to do that for as little money as possible! Not sure how where this fits in but gods luck to those who enter. NZ is a lovely place.

  6. I love Air NZ, definitely the best airline in the world! And yes I’m a Kiwi but seriously amazing customer service in the sky!
    My other half and I have used the sky couch before for our trip out to LAX from LHR and it’s a great product – the ability to lie flat during a flight is fantastic and the price is impressive. We did notice that after two weeks in the US that it was slightly less roomy on the way back to LHR.
    Not sure if they still have the sky concierge on the flights down to NZ from LAX but a lot of passengers flying to NZ for the first time loved having someone help them with travel tips for NZ ie giving them maps, tips on places to visit and where to eat.
    I can’t rave about my national airline enough!

    • I think it looks fun, but can you actually sleep on it? With someone else?

      • Enter, and if you win you can let us know!

        Assuming 2 are travelling anyway, the extra £299 each way (about £25 per flight hour) seems reasonable as Kelly says.

        For a family with one small child, you can just put that seat into flat mode which allows the kid to curl up and sleep. You can’t argue with paying £100 extra for that on a 12 hour flight to LA.

        • What do the parents do then? Stand around is the aisle?

        • You certainly can argue with that! If you have £100 to spare for your small child to lie slightly more comfortably for a few hours I’m not sure why you’d be in economy in the first place.

          Your paid promotion of this product does result in a great prize for a reader however so I really have no right to complain!

          • You already have paid at least £1,500 return for the flight tickets for three people so the extra £100 each way is nominal, I suggest.

            I don’t get paid a penny for running this competition, for clarity, unless you count the lunch ANZ bought me in T2!

          • Which is one of the reasons I often feel out of place here – £100 is not nominal to most people!

            I meant the increased ad revenue etc you’ll get from this. Sorry if it sounded like an accusation or something!

        • I’ll be happy to give it a go and write a review if we win!

          We have a one year old and have bought her a seat for flying to Dublin (admittedly it was only a couple of pounds more…) – so would definitely see value in having the option for various configurations on a longer flight!

  7. AirAstana have a more basic version called ‘Economy Sleeper’ on some services. You get 3 economy seats to sleep on.

  8. How do seat belts work in couch mode, or do you have to convert it back to normal seats in case of turbulence?

  9. What happens if the person in one of the seats in front wants to recline?

    • What happens if there are seats in front? No leg room forwards or sideways, and barely space for 2 to sit abreast. Like the way the video conveniently removes the next row! Can only see this as being good for someone alone in the middle seat sitting cross-legged and meditating to overcome the pain of sitting cross-legged for so long, or for the NZ hobbits as mentioned above (who have to like spooning if more than one) and of course for 2 small kids – but would you pay the extra cost for them? Mine sleep pretty soundly in a normal seat. Glad I’m not the only one with reservations against this idea. And since airlines always insist on you having your seatbelt done up and visible above any blankets while you sleep, not sure how this is even practical, let alone comfortable. Happy to win a free trip however in a couch that wouldn’t even get a test drive, but otherwise ANZ can keep their skycouch and I’ll keep my money.

    • i would think these are the type of seats that don’t recline (ie. where you kind of slide forwards rather than recline eg like the seats on CX)

  10. Don't Like Fruit says:

    The on-screen snack ordering really appeals to me.

    Irrespective of the cabin I’m flying in, I’ve never been comfortable pressing the attendant call button to ask for additional food or drink. Having this option made explicit via the screen option would remove my inhibitions!

    Do any other airlines offer anything similar?

    • Virgin America have an electronic ordering system for food and drinks through the IFE screen (in economy at least).

  11. What's the Point says:

    What happens if you are sitting next to a stranger and they offer to go head to toe with you!

    • The_Real_A says:

      The next course of action really depends on how attractive she is :)

    • I don’t think that’s possible. I think you book the couch, not a single seat on it. The pricing above looks very odd otherwise.

      Having strangers fall asleep on my shoulder has happened before in economy.

  12. Percy Pig says:

    How I think the sky couch would be used:

    Me: Sitting in Aisle seat, pressing the “order booze” button as frequently as I can
    Wife: Curled up on sky couch, head at window end – feet on my lap
    Child: Running amok

  13. All joking aside, this is a great prize and I hope the winner has lpts of fun with it. I have flew NZ and imo their cabin crew are the best I have come across. Ot’s a pity they did npt resist the temptation to go 10 across but skycpuch is novel and NZ should be commended for trying something different. It will certainly work for some such as larger build couples who will appreciate the comfort of the flush fitting armrests. At just 171cm I guess too I could just about position myself comfortably to sleep. Good luck to the winner, and thanks to Rob for continuing efforts on competitions.

  14. So for a solo traveller, it’d cost circa £1600 return to get a (short, but then, so am I) flat bed. And circa £1k to fly economy with the skycouch one-way.

    I guess I can see it working as an alternative to attempting to trying to upgrade to J for an overnight flight, one way, but it seems pricey for what it is.

    Of course, the real sweet spot would be on a very quiet flight if you can end up on a skycouch on your own without paying extra!

    • I agree, for a solo traveller it does not compare that well to buying PE outright. That is possibly deliberate, though, because ANZ would prefer you to buy PE if you can afford it and leave the 3 economy seats to be sold to someone else.

      Remember that ANZ doesn’t pay any APD or taxes on your empty middle seat when a couple travel, neither will your empty middle seat be checking in any bags or having a meal, so charging £299 is a good deal for them.

      • True, but you’d have to want to spoon to lie down in couch mode! No good for a pair of friends – unless you were very close friends.

        How is it having the couch bit extended while sitting upright? is there enough actual room there for a (short-ish) person sitting upright to have their legs stretched out?

        • The seats are known as the ‘cuddle couch’ for a reason!

          If you wanted to sit upright and were travelling solo, I think you’d put a couple of pillow behind your back and lean on the window. Feel free to experiment on your sofa at home!

          • I was actually thinking about more than one person sitting upright on it – if you can sit in your designated seat with the couch bit up and stretch your legs out, or if you’d need to tuck your legs to the side.

          • The pitch is the same as normal economy seat so I doubt that would work.

        • Percy Pig says:

          Real friends spoon together

  15. I think the extra is reasonable for the couch, but agree with the poster questioning it’s value when you can get an ex eu J seat for around a grand.

    Avoid regular economy in a 10 across 777 at all cost, it’s tortuous on a long flight.

  16. With a 20 month old id love to see how this works….it actually puts us off flying in Y as nowhere for us to sit and little on to sleep on a long haul flight without someone next to us…thats why i justify to Mrs G we need to travel in J :)

  17. I’m dissappointed by the pricing. **From** £600 each way…for only half the leg of the trip (LHR-LAX)… It’s better to fly Business, for me at least.

    I don’t think headforpoints is the best place to promote this given the audience of this site – which is more Business class and up driven or at least status earning to nab the best seat in Economy. Just my opinion.

    • These are the best seats in Economy!

      You need to remember that LA is a very tricky route to get Avios seats, especially for a family of 3 since you are above the ‘guaranteed minimum’ of 2 Club World seats. In contrast, there are no black out dates for this prize subject to seats still being available. Even if you a dedicated ‘business only’ person, I think most solo travellers would swallow their pride and take the Skycouch for solo occupancy if it meant saving 150,000 Avios + £550 tax!

      I agree with your general point though. I would not give away a standard economy flight on the site or, indeed, a hotel room below a four star.

    • I’m not proud: I’ll happily fly economy if I need to go somewhere and there are no reward flights available or crazy low fares in biz so this article is actually really interesting.

      Almost all of my redemption/cheap business flights have been to places I was not that bothered about going, but went there because of the flights. So, I’m very interested to see improvements in Economy cabins because that is where I will be spending quite a bit of my time once the novelty of on-board champagne wears off and I start booking my holidays based on location rather than seat number . I don’t seriously expect to be able to maintain my position at the front of the ‘plane indefinitely (my employer has a travel ban so every tier point and avios is hard-earned), so any improvements to economy travel are good news for me, and I want to read about it!

  18. I think this shows real innovation in the industry, good luck to them! Sure it might not float everyone’s boat but as a couple if you can get the extra space for an extra £300 that’s good VFM in my book!

    • cheekychappie says:

      She’ll be right! :)

      Let’s face it: it’s just 3 seats where there’s a flipover seat to make it wider & the armrests don’t get in the way.

      About the best thing the Kiwis have invented, maybe.

      Doesn’t really compare to all the stuff we invented but they’re only 4 million.

  19. It looks to me as if access to the life jacket would be severely restricted, but surely that cannot be the case?

    • cheekychappie says:

      Why would you need it?

      Flight safety rigmarole really ps me off. The trolley dollies even get a bit annoyed if you don’t pay attention.

      Let’s face it: the only time a safety belt will help you in an emergency is an extremely rare time, most other times you’ll be dead.

      The only time a life jacket will help you in an emergency is an extremely rare time, most other times you’ll be dead.

      • cheekychappie says:

        Once I had a bit of a problem because I like to do up my ‘safety belt’ at its biggest/ longest limit – more comfortable.

        A trolley dolly saw it & started to moan at me to tighten it up.

        In my younger days I might have argued, but I am an old frat now so just tightened it a bit until she went away then loosened it again & hid it under my magazine.

        How the hell a safety belt can help me when the plane plunges into the ground, I really don’t know :)

        • Lady London says:

          I think the idea of safety belts is to keep you attached to your seat – so that you don’t get ejected and your flying personage does not impact someone else. It’s not really for your own good you know.

          Oh, and to keep you safely in your seat in case the plane suddenly drops a few hundred feet in turbulence – in that case it would stop the ceiling hitting your head as it drops through sudden no-air air.

          • cheekychappie says:

            oh I had the belt done up – just loose! I’d have thought that even a loose belt will stop you hitting your head on the ceiling?

          • Most times it will, sometimes it won’t.

            Though I hardly think expecting them to analyse everyone’s belt length to body size ratio to establish whether you’ll remain in your seat is a reasonable use of their time! It’s not as if they’re telling you to make it excessively tight – you can still have it loose enough to not feel it.

        • You’ve clearly never heard of clear air turbulence then!

  20. Raffles, thanks a lot for running this competition, and all the amazing work and info you provide on your site; I thoroughly enjoy it and normally even read articles which don’t really apply to me with gusto. I must confess, however, this is the first time I have read one with some reservations…

    The skycouch certainly looks innovative, but if it wasn’t the prize being offered, would it have featured on your site (can you book it with miles)? I think this is also the first time I’ve read a seat review that was done (in an empty plane) entirely on the ground. But the point I feel needs more emphasis is the seats being “slightly narrower” than BA’s (or anyone’s) 9-across economy on this aircraft type. The physical difference may be slight, but the difference in comfort is significant… esp on Air NZ’s “very long sector lengths” (I’m speaking from experience, unfortunately… something I wouldn’t do again, though the service and IFE were quite decent).

    Anyway thanks again for running the comp… I do understand if such articles are required to run them, and have entered regardless of my reservations!