Air New Zealand plans ‘economy seat-beds’ on new B777-300s

Air New Zealand (ANZ) has revealed plans to offer Economy passengers the chance to spread out in comfort in a new seating concept that will convert their seat and the one next to them into a so-called ‘economy seat-bed’. Passengers will be offered this option if there is an unsold seat available next to them when they check in at the airport. The airline has not said what it might charge passengers for the extra seat, but industry analyst estimate a NZ$150 (USD100/EUR75) charge to be reasonable. The economy seat-beds are developed by ANZ’s design subsidiary Altitude and are expected to be unveiled in April 2010 when ANZ will show the new interior for its new Boeing 777-300Ers it will receive at the end of next year. 

At the moment, ANZ already offers passengers on long-haul flights the option to buy the seat next to them, if it proves to be unsold upon check-in. This service is called ‘twinseat’ and is available for NZ$99 (USD70/EUR50). However, the airline says the main limitation of this service is that “not all arm rests onboard our aircraft fully retract and therefore Twin Seat is not intended for, and may not allow you to sit across or lay across multiple seats.” The new ‘seat-bed’ design would remove this limitation and is rumoured to be a system in which both seats could slide forward and the seat rest would raise up so the foot room disappears and the passenger can spread out across both seats.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, analysts do not believe the economy seat-beds will cannibalise ANZ’s business class, because business travellers will want to be sure they get a flat seat and will not take the risk of waiting until they arrived at the airport to see whether any spare seats were available in economy class. Upgraded economy seats prove to be popular among ANZ passengers. The airline, which typically operates very long distance flights, also increased the number of premium economy seats on its aircraft several times in the past years.


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