Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 business class seat review

By David Flynn, August 4 2014
Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 business class seat review

The most fortunate of the 302 passengers in Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will find themselves in the ‘Business Premier’ business class cabin.

The 18 business class seats are identical to those on the airline's flagship Boeing 777-300 jets.

You get comfortable wide seats which fold out into a lie-flat bed which the crew dress with a 'memory foam' mattress, duvet and two full size pillows.

The Business Premier seats are arranged in an angled 1-1-1 layout so that every passenger has direct aisle access.

The sole difference between Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787 and Boeing 777 business class seating is the ‘geometry’ of the layout.

In the Boeing 787-9’s business class cabin the seats are angled at 49 degrees rather than the 40 degrees of the Boeing 777. This means the pitch is slightly reduced, although not enough to be noticeable.

(As it happens, the Business Premier seats on the upper deck of Air New Zealand’s Boeing 747 jumbo jets have the exact same angle and pitch as the Boeing 787-9.)

The seats also mark the debut of Air New Zealand’s new inflight entertainment system with a vastly improved touchscreen interface, new channels and a cleaner ‘app-centric’ design.

Read: 10 things we love about Air New Zealand's new inflight entertainment system

Something that hasn’t changed, perhaps to the surprise of many regular Business Premier travellers, is the size of those video screens remains at 11 inches.

Carrie Hurihanganui, Air New Zealand’s General Manager for Customer Experience, admitted that a larger screen could be fitted into the seat but the relatively short distance between the screen to the passenger makes 11 inches large enough.

“With the arm that brings the screen out, it’s a close enough proximity that 11 inches is quite a nice fit” she told Australian Business Traveller.

“There are a number of screens (in other airlines’ business class) that much much larger but in those seats there is more distance between you and the screen.”

Our pick of the best seats would be those on the left of the plane (1A through to 6A), as they face the rear wall of the middle seats.

This means you won't be end up looking at the screens of those sitting across the aisle from you – something which can be annoying of a night if the cabin is dark but those screens remain switched on.

The middle seats (1J through 6J) and right-side window seats (1K through 6K) are all angled towards one another.

Note that the pilot's rest area of the Boeing 787-9 is located in the ceiling and extends to the first three rows of the business class cabin.

As a result, passengers in seats 1J, 2J and 3J don't get their own overhead luggage space – as you can see from the photo below, there are no latches to open these overhead bins.

Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 will begin flying between Auckland and Sydney on Saturday August 9, ahead of its official debut on the Auckland-Perth route in October, with Shanghai and Tokyo to follow by the end of this year (once the airline takes delivery of two more Dreamliners in September and October).

Also read: our reviews of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787-9 premium economy and economy seats

Australian Business Traveller travelled on the Boeing 787-9 delivery flight from Seattle to Auckland as a guest of Air New Zealand and Boeing.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

WOW! looks stunning!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jan 2013

Total posts 55

Looks pretty awesome. Shame my usual Syd to HKG route with QF is changing from the A380 to 747 (Fail).... I love Qantas but its time to dump the 767s and upgrade,,,

Sorry my 2 cents worth.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2199

Um, Tezza, you'll find this article is:

  1. Not about QF, but about NZ;
  2. Not about A380s or B747s or B767s, but about B789s; and;
  3. Not about flights from SYD, but from AKL.

Just me tuppence worth, aye.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 412

Count me out .... HATE the seating look with the seat back to the windows. I don't expect to get on that config. Otherwise looks OK.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Aug 2014

Total posts 1

Looks OK, but whole heartidly agree with comments on Qantas. I do the HK run from Melbourne a number of times a year and they really need to life their game. Looking seiously at Cathay or other carrier. 

04 Jan 2014

Total posts 40

Ummmmm, When I fly, I like to often look out of the window. Seems like window seats on this aircraft in J are not really useful, well for that purpose. I am pretty tall, so my legs sticking out into the aisle will become a tripping issue for passing traffic, as well as food trollies.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Aug 2014

Total posts 11

No privacy and minimal storage and workspace compared to Qantas or Cathay. Melbourne options for HK are only Qantas and Cathay unless you want to transit. I see little between them and comes down top personal preference/style. Food and entertainment better on Qantas, seat and screen size better on Cathay. Qantas lounge way better than Cathay. New Qantas bus seat later this year may tip in their favour.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

04 Sep 2012

Total posts 136

I have to disagree...
Privacy- 1,1,1 config compared to 2,2,2 or 2,3,2 on QF: you dont have an annoying seat partner in this desgin. Also the walls are good when sleeping.
Storage/Work- Boeing has large bins and there is also the hole in the ottoman and a box beside the seat. Working wise the tray table is designed for a meal for two (someone seated on the ottoman) so you can have a laptop and papers out at once.
Food, NZ has convotherm ovens on thier 77W and presumably the 787 where you can specify how you want your meat cooked.

Cathay's lounges in HKG outwiegh QF in my opinion.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 May 2014

Total posts 11

I know the crew need to have a rest area, and also somewhere to store their carry on, but why do they seem to always take the space from passengers that have paid for a premium seat? Not sure from the photos where passengers in 1-3J put their carry on. I can see from a security issue that maybe the pilots need to have the rest area at the front of the plane, but there has to be a better way to design this.


The QF 738 row 1 loses storage to the emergency equipment, often crew put their carry above row 2-3, although VA are by far the worst on that.

05 Sep 2011

Total posts 66

Given how large the 787s overhead bins are, it really shouldn't be an issue finding space a couple of rows back or in the bins above the window seats, especially given how few passengers there are in business. Be thankful they haven't removed the central bins altogether, as several airlines do so as to make the cabin feel fractionally more spacious.

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