Air New Zealand introduces 'cuddle class'

ery of its first aircraft featuring economy seats which turn into beds.

The Skycouch seats – dubbed as ‘cuddle class’ – are designed to give couples and families the opportunity to lie down like they would on their couch a home, the airline claims.

The first routes to guarantee travellers the next generation of long-haul travel will be on return services between Auckland and Los Angeles and through to London from April 2011.

The carrier’s first Boeing 777-300ER featuring the redesign interior - which also includes new premium economy seating; ovens in all cabins to cook pizza, steaks and burgers; and a children’s story time section in the rear galley – was due to be delivered today.

The 338-seat aircraft is configured with 244 in economy (including 60 seats creating 20 Skycouch combinations), 50 in premium economy and 44 in business class.

Skycouch passengers flying from London to Auckland travelling together will pay the regular economy return rate for plus about half price for a third seat in the same row.

Group general manager international airline Ed Sims said the aircraft heralded a new long-haul flying experience.

“The majority of our long-haul flights are overnight and we fly on average 90 minutes longer than any other airline. That’s why we set out to overcome the seemingly impossible challenge of finding a way for people to lie down in economy without compromising affordability,” he said.

“Few airlines have invested time and money beyond first class, whereas we have focused on the areas where most of our passengers sit by reinventing every aspect of our economy and premium economy customer experience.

“We’ve created the world’s first economy seating that enables people to lie down and a premium economy seat that many airlines would call business class.

“We’re also the first commercial airline to introduce induction ovens for all cabins to give our customers freshly prepared food and have developed an in-flight entertainment system to give people greater control over the way their journey will unfold.”

Air New Zealand has five Boeing 777-300ERs on order, with the second due for delivery in February followed by a third in A