Air New Zealand is developing an all-new business class seat

By David Flynn, May 14 2018
Air New Zealand is developing an all-new business class seat

Behind closed doors and with tightly-sealed lips, Air New Zealand is working on an all-new business class seat to replace its decade-old sleeper.

The seat is expected to crown the pointy end of AirNZ's forthcoming non-stop flights to New York and other far-afield destinations on the Boeing 777X or Airbus A350 from 2022, and would also appear on a refit of the Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.

The Star Alliance member's current business class is facing competition from more modern and generally superior seats flown by competitors such as Qantas, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, among others.

''Whatever you land on is going to be on board an aircraft for a decade plus, so you have to get it right," Air New Zealand's chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod told the New Zealand Herald. "And part of getting it right involves a little bit of crystal ball gazing. In our case we have to look as far out as 2030.''

''We have been having a bunch of super interesting conversations across different industries around the globe trying to distil down what common themes we need to be thinking about, while at the same time identifying partners who share the same vision for the future of air travel.''

The NZ Herald reports that development of the new business class seat, along with its premium economy and economy counterparts, is being carried out "in a secure building near (the airline's) downtown Auckland headquarters."

"While the airline is not releasing details of the project, the test site has been dubbed 'Hangar 22'' and for the past month a handful of its customers, including some of its most frequent long-haul flyers have started trialling early-stage product development."

Consultants from US design firm IDEO – who shaped the previous generation of seats, including the revolutionary but-since-canned Spaceseat - have also reportedly visited Auckland.

Read more: Air New Zealand's top secret operation to revamp long-haul cabins


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.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 952

The NZ J class product is very outdated compared with just about everybody. In some ways, it is surprising that NZ didn't do something about it when it introduced the 787.

It still has a very competitive W class product with a leading pitch of over 40" and will probably shy away from being too revolutionary after the Spaceseat debacle.

NZ are also apparently reviewing their Y product where they have the unique bed product. It will be interesting to see where they go with this also. Despite being offered to a number of airlines, no other major airline has adopted the seat. There is speculation that this may be because of fear of cannibalising premium cabin yields though it was also not helped by an apparently very high licensing fee that NZ were demanding.


24 Jan 2016

Total posts 27

The Sky Couch is also found on China Airlines from Taiwan. Seeing as its a much larger airline than NZ I'd put that in the "major airline" category.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 79

There's several other airlines that have sky couch or some similar product. Azores airlines? I can't remember the list. Not a huge uptake but there are more airlines with this.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 164

ANA is introducing the Skycouch to its A380s and Air Astana has introduced it. However, my hope is NZ doesn't tighten up its PE seat pitch. Plenty of scope for NZ to do something better in J class, perhaps forward facing with sliding doors. The old updated VS herringbone design is very comfortable for sleeping, but not the best in other positions.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

About time! It will be welcomed upgrade over the coffin class....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 129

I find the current seats to be very good, I just wish the IFE screen was height adjustable, because in their current configuration I can't lie comfortably and watch TV without the screen digging into me.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jan 2015

Total posts 74

Agree. Im ok with the current product but It's time to update especially with a number of airlines moving to the Business suite model.

Well that’s a tad dramatic. Long overdue for an update. Still disappointed ANZ removed the space seat in PE.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

best innovation in PE

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Dec 2017

Total posts 19

Not a fan of the angled to the centre seats. I wonder if they will make the next seat less revolutionary than last time?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2018

Total posts 1

Yes, window seats that face away from the window. It takes an airline to come up with that one!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jun 2017

Total posts 36

White leather was a spectacularly poor choice of upholstery. Hopefully they choose that’ll age better.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

bring back the SPACESEAT - mark 2

15 May 2018

Total posts 1

I would like to see seats that semi recline at various points found that the lie flat bed became uncomfortable after a few hours sleeping

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 93

Seats + bunks. That's what it will be. :)

WThe current herring bone configuration has turned me off

Air N.Z, Business Class.
To have to sit for hours and have to look at a stranger, who ofte have their shoes off and no socks I'd not my idea of
travelling for a premium price.

06 Nov 2017

Total posts 9

have to agree, terrible premium product... from the wine to the food...but most of all is the awful foot well , if you are 6 ft tall and have over size 12 feet ( I'm size 13 ) i wasn't able to fly with legs straight... so I gave up

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 26

These Herring Bone seats are so Last Century. Even Virgin Atlantic the Innovator of this concept have dropped them on New Aircraft order. Also I recall Cathay ripped them out after barely 3 years . When I fly I want to see The Sky not somebody elses Feet.

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