In the ongoing game of creative airline seating, Air New Zealand is introducing a welcome option in the economy section of its new long-haul airplanes. Some seats at the back of the plane will feature a footrest of sorts that can be raised like a recliner to create a platform for sleeping.
The comfier seats are one of many interesting ideas floating around to make flying a little more bearable. From simple things like leaving middle seats empty to designing staggered seats to exploring ultra-creative ideas like putting beds on planes, airlines and designers are rethinking the passenger experience. Unfortunately, many of these ideas are limited to the front of the airplane where first- and business-class passengers sit.
So, it comes as welcome news that when Air New Zealand takes delivery of its new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft this fall, those of us in coach will enjoy the possibility of lying flat to sleep. The catch is the “Skycouch” turns three seats into a small bed. That means it probably works best if you’re not very tall or you’re traveling with kids. It fits the bill if you’re lucky enough that you and your traveling companion can enjoy having the seats to yourselves, like the lucky couple in the promotional photo from the airline.
And that, of course, assumes your traveling companion is someone you actually want to sleep next to.
Airline CEO Rob Fyfe says the company has spent three years trying to ignite a passion for flying, especially on long-haul trips.
“For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone,” he said. “The dream is now a reality, one that you can even share with a traveling companion — just keep your clothes on, thanks!”
We’re not sure about Fyfe’s claims of “putting the magic and romance” back into flying. But Air New Zealand does say two people traveling together can purchase the third seat at half price and have a row to themselves. The company did not specify whether that option will be limited to flights that aren’t packed with full-fare paying customers.
And only the first 11 rows of the economy class cabin will have the new seating arrangement.