China Airlines unveils ‘Family Couches’ on its upcoming B777-300ERs

China Airlines_Family Couch_b680x397

This article originally appeared on >talkairlines

By Kai-Chin Shih | >talkairlines

China Airlines has finally released details on its Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class, which will include normal Economy Class seats and the new Family Couch. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats.

Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests and armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew.

Specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (which is the reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) are also handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat. When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.

10 rows
This new type of seat will be installed in the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A three-person ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60 percent cheaper than the fare of three Business Class seats.

Both the Family Couch seats and the normal Economy Class seats are manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace. The seats are slimmer than China Airlines’ current Economy Class seats and can allow passengers to recline up to 118 degrees, compared to the current 106 degrees and seat pitch is 32 inches. Each seat comes with a 11.1-inch high definition personal screen which uses Panasonic’s new eX3 system.

The new China Airlines Boeing 777-300ER will have a total of 358 seats, including 40 lie-flat B/E Aerospace Super Diamond Business Class seats, 62 Premium Economy seats (no information released yet), and 256 Zodiac Aerospace Economy Class seats (including 30 Family Couch seats/10 sets).

The first routes of the 77W will be regional routes, including that to Hong Kong and Bangkok. Long haul 777-300ER services will start in December 2014 with routes to Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Frankfurt.

Economy-heavy
Despite the innovative improvement, >talkairlines is surprised to see only 10 sets of Family Couch seats installed. Air New Zealand, the first user of the seats, has 20 sets of Skycouch on each of its Boeing 777-300ER. The decision of China Airlines indicates that the carrier still lacks confidence in getting sufficient amount of premium flyers, or in this case, passengers willing to pay more.

As stated by the officials of the Taiwanese national carrier, the company’s revenue relies heavily on Economy Class passengers. The airline tends to attract passengers willing to pay less since ticket prices are usually lower than its competitors.

Current long-haul planes of China Airlines have an economy to non-economy ratio of approximately 8:1, and the airline’s new 777-300ERs will have a ratio down to 2.5:1. Despite this improvement, when compared to major carriers in the region (for example Cathay Pacific: lowest 1.9:1; ANA: lowest 1.12:1), this number is still rather high.

Nevertheless, >talkairlines still recognises China Airline’s effort to transform its products. The new Business Class is a huge leap forward from the current angled lie-flat seats, while the Premium Economy Class is a brand new class type to the airline.

>talkairlines hopes that with the new premium product offerings and a lower economy to non-economy ratio, China Airlines can attract more high-yielding customers and gradually transform its customer base.

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