Air New Zealand’s new business class and premium economy ‘Spaceseat’ are making their debut on daily flights between Melbourne and Auckland this week, along with a one-day visit to Brisbane.
The Kiwi flag-carrier is not publicly promoting these 'preview' flights, preferring to leave them unannounced in what an airline spokesperson described as "a ‘surprise-and-delight’ for customers who are lucky enough to be onboard the selected flights". In other words, it's luck-of-the-draw.
However, Australian Business Traveller has been advised by AirNZ that a factory-fresh 777-300ER fitted with the new seats and cabins is currently scheduled for the daily NZ124 Melbourne-Auckland service for Wednesday January 12th, Friday January 14th and Saturday January 15th.
The same aircraft arrived into Melbourne today as flight NZ123 from Auckland and is slated for the Auckland-Melbourne NZ123 route on Friday January 14th and Saturday January 15th (after which time the flight reverts to the former Boeing 777-200ER).
Australian Business Traveller has also learned that the 777-300ER will make a previously unannounced run between Auckland and Brisbane on Thursday January 13th, as NZ135 (departing Auckland at 9.25am) and NZ136 (departing Brisbane at 11.25am).
The exercise is designed to give Air New Zealand's Melbourne and Brisbane trans-Tasman travellers a taste of what’s in store for when the carrier's four more 777-300ERs enter service.
AirNZ will also run these ‘preview’ flights between Auckland and Los Angeles ahead of scheduling the plane and its three new cabins onto the dedicated NZ1/NZ2 service between Auckland and London via Los Angeles from April 1, 2011.
While the 777-300ER sports the new ‘cuddle class’ economy Skycouch and a revamped business class, the premium economy Spaceseat will be of most interest to business travellers and frequent flyers.
So if you’re shuttling between Melbourne and Auckland this week, or Brisbane and Auckland on Thursday, how do you score one of these Spaceseats to try for yourself?
Air New Zealand tells Australian Business Traveller that customers who’ve booked the Works Deluxe economy package – the most expensive of the airline’s four economy-class deals – or are ‘high value’ customers with the carrier’s Airpoints Silver, Gold or Gold Elite frequent flyer status will be top of the list for an upgrade to the new Spaceseat.
The same is likely to apply to the Skycouch bunks, which occupy the window-side (ABC and HJK) seats in the first 11 rows of economy, but of course couples will likely get first dibs on those.