AusBT Awards 2011: Best Premium Economy

By David Flynn, December 20 2011
AusBT Awards 2011: Best Premium Economy

Best Premium Economy Seat for Australian Business Travellers: Air New Zealand Spaceseat

Premium economy is becoming increasingly popular as a middle-ground cabin offering better seating and service than economy, but without the significantly higher cost of business class.

While we rate Qantas premium economy as one of the world’s best ‘economy plus’ products, and are keen to try out Cathay Pacific's new entry into the PE space, Air New Zealand’s innovative Spaceseat raised the bar to new heights in 2011.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for the Kiwi flag-carrier. Created for Air New Zealand by US design firm Ideo, the seat looked superb in mock-ups.

However, the Spaceseat’s initial rollout on AirNZ’s flagship Boeing 777-300ERs – used for some trans-Tasman flights as well as services from Auckland to Los Angeles and London – ironically proved to be crucially short of space, with far little room for the knees and legs of even average-sized passengers.

Frequent flyers and Australian Business Traveller were quick to highlight the problem. To their credit Air New Zealand listened and removed one row of seats, boosting legroom by an extra 4-6 inches – resulting in what we ‘re now confident to crown as best premium economy seat for the business traveller, not just in Australia-New Zealand but the world.

Click here to see all winners in the Australian Business Traveller Awards 2011.

The Australian Business Traveller Awards are judged by an independent panel of business travellers and frequent flyers plus the AusBT team, and provide a uniquely Australian perspective on the best products and services for Australia's estimated 2.6 million business travellers.



04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Geez those seats look good but I'd be worried about how they will look after a year of solid duty, hope they wear well and are easy to clean!


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Feb 2011

Total posts 2

Surely some mistake?  Innovative, sure.  Quirky inflight videos, of course. 

But, with the possible exception of the window seats, which still don't quite work, these are awful - if you're in the middle, your feet are prone to collisions with passengers and, even better, trollies, and if you're on an outer aisle, expect a lot of disturbance when the window passenger needs to move.  It's also important to realise that the couple cosied up on two centre seats are, of course, professional contortionists.

The old Air NZ longhaul PE (and, for that matter, the much less sophisticated but much more functional Qantas version) certainly score less in the style stakes, but AirNZ seem to have forgotten that the aim of PE is a bit more space, a bit more quiet and slightly better creature comforts, not a stunted version of, say, Cathay P business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 95

My problem is the cost, they are at or near the business class seat cost. In fact they exceed the cost of the low end business class seat when on special.

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