A look at Air New Zealand Premium Economy – how PE should be done

Until September 27th, Head for Points is running a fantastic competition in association with Air New Zealand to win a trip for 1-3 people to Los Angeles!  If you haven’t entered yet, you will find full details and the entry form on this page.

The competition doesn’t close for another 12 days so you have plenty of time to forward the link to your friends as well.

As part of the competition, I am running a series of article to introduce HFP readers to the on-board product that Air New Zealand offers on its daily Boeing 777-300 flights from Heathrow to Los Angeles (for which you can buy stand-alone tickets) and then on to Auckland.

Today, I am taking a look at Premium Economy.  I had a tour of the Air New Zealand plane whilst it was on the ground at Heathrow a few weeks ago so I could see for myself what is on offer.

Premium Economy – usually more ‘economy’ than ‘premium’

I have never flown Premium Economy on any airline, as I have mentioned on HFP before.  When I was flying Economy in my 20’s it didn’t exist, and by the time it had become widespread I had learnt how to use frequent flyer miles or cheap ex-Europe tickets to keep myself in Business.  When travelling for work I benefited from a generous company travel policy which kept me up front.

If it had looked more appealing, though, I may have done it.  The problem is that you are usually only getting a slightly wider and slightly longer version of an Economy seat, potentially with an upgraded main course and the benefit of being in a small semi-private section of cabin.

Here is the latest version of the British Airways World Traveller Plus seat, for example:

British Airways World Traveller Plus

and here is the Virgin Atlantic version:

Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy

It is definitely better than Economy but it doesn’t get anyone excited.  Here, on the other hand, is the Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300 version:

Air New Zealand Premium Economy

Now we’re talking.  They call it the Spaceseat.  To be honest, when I first saw it in person, I thought I was in a rather average Business Class cabin!

There is a sleek 50-second You Tube video available here if you click.

Here are a couple of ‘real life’ pictures I took.  Remember that the cabin had not been cleaned from the incoming flight at this point:

File 10-09-2015 09 36 11

and

File 10-09-2015 09 36 33

What differentiates ANZ Premium Economy from the BA and Virgin products is the ‘fixed shell’ design which gives a far greater sense of privacy, as does the herringbone layout of the seats.  The pitch is 42 inches, the seat width is 20 inches and IFE is provided by a 10.6 inch screen.

(This compares to 38 inch pitch and 18.5 inch width on BA and 38 inch pitch and 21 inch width on Virgin.)

The food and drink offering is entirely different from the Economy offering.  You will also receive a higher baggage allowance – 2 x 23kg bags in Premium Economy as opposed to 1 x 23kg bag in Economy.

In the current Air New Zealand sale, which ends on 23rd September, prices start at £870 return for Premium Economy to Los Angeles.  That compares to £449 for Economy and £2,327 for Business Premier, which I will look at next week.

If you want to find out more, there is a dedicated Premium Economy page on the Air New Zealand website here.  If you haven’t yet entered our ANZ competition, click here.

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Comments

  1. The concept may seem funky but the seat in reality has not turned out the game changer that NZ hoped it would. They were forced to take out a row of seats when the product launched on the 77W (as the legroom was so abysmal that everyone was complaining) and they have never recovered from an economics/cost perspective of the 15% reduction in seats. Thus why NZ has switched back to a more traditional PEY layout on their 777-200 refit and 787 new deliveries (which otherwise have the same JCL and YCL cabins as the 777-300ER). Even with the extra row of Spaceseats taken out on the 777-300ER the seat is very much a Marmite one – you either love it or hate it; just take a look at the thread on Flyertalk.

  2. If airlines on my routes were offering a comparable product to ANZ and the price was right then I would definitely fly PE on daytime flights. On such flights I rarely recline my J seats much more than 30-45 degrees anyway and, let’s face it, this NZ PE seat looks nicer and more comfortable as a recliner than BAs CW seat being used for the same purpose.any years ago I flew the EVA PE offerimg when I believe it was only one on the market. It was something of a revelation with good recline, good pitchand a footrest which made all the difference from economy on a longhaul to BKK. The price also worked, only about £300 return more expensive than Y. However, after that the competitive pricing on EVA, particularly one way, disappeared and I don’t think it has ever returned so I bever flew it again. I feel the pricing on vast majority of PE products is much to hight but anybody who can get a return to LAX on NZ in this for £870 is on a winner, especially if you book at peak days as a solo traveller when chances of an op up will be boosted substantially. Makes WTP and tge fares, and similar products on other carriers, look like a joke.

    • I used to be a royal BA Y long haul customer back in the day…until I discovered EVA PE.

      The very old EVA PE was really a revolution it only cost a bit extra more (In fact, at the beginning the price on long haul was less than £200 more than Y) and you get to fly at the nose of the 747. It was also very easy to upgrade yourself from Y using EVA voucher at the time. Needless to say I got spoiled and really could not face to fly long haul Y ever since…(In fact, when I first saw the old BA WTP on BA open day, I thought they were Y seat)

      However, those was the good old days, after they changed to 777-300ER, their 2nd generation PE seats became popular on the LHR-BKK route and the price gradually increased.

      I also found the pricing on majority of PE products on the route that I need is much higher than I am willing to pay for a PE seat these days, having saying that this AZ PE seat do look nice and the price does look competitive.

      • At least 10 years since I flew them, was old style seat on 744. £200 more than Y actually sounds about right, didn’t really think it got as high as £300. I have no idea what the seat on 77W looks like ut the aircraft itself is a bit of a turnoff. Fares for WTP to BKK are totally over the top but was lucky to get a ow UUA to CW for £600+ , and KUL rtn to GLA UUA to CW for £904 both prior to devaluation.

  3. That seat hasn’t gone down that well hence why it’s not in the newer 789s. To be honest I think the VS PE offering is very good in terms of hard product. Much much better than WTP.

    • I agree the economics of it are probably tricky, because the seat takes up more space than usual. Assuming you don’t want to mess about with ex EU, though, I think £870 return to LA in the current sale is very competitive and certainly worth the premium over Economy – more so for solo travellers who want privacy.

  4. The middle seats look handy if you dont want to talk to the missus :-)

    • Indeed. Normally you have to pay for business class to be able to avoid talking to your partner, whilst ANZ lets you do it for a PE price! Well worth extra money for 24 hours peace and quiet on an LA return :-)

  5. James,

    EVA PE has returned to a competitive level ex EU. I recently booked ex AMS on the 777W for £650 for Aug 2016.

    • Thanks Clive, I will keep that in mind because my stash of miles is dwindling and from middle of next year I will likely have to mix and match with revenue fares.

  6. From the video it looks stunning. Shame from the previous comments on this thread it is not doing so well. I have done BA’s WTP once (albeit a couple of years ago) and actually found the seat with its rigid sides less comfortable and less easy to sleep in than a standard economy seat – which is saying something.

  7. I am very surprised that this seating has not been well received TBH, from the images and videos I have watched, it seems a far superior product than BA WTP.