Best seats: Premium Economy Spaceseat, Air New Zealand 777-300ER

By John Walton, September 14 2011
Best seats: Premium Economy Spaceseat, Air New Zealand 777-300ER

Travelling in Air New Zealand's Premium Economy Spaceseats on the Kiwi airline's Boeing 777-300ER flagship flights to Los Angeles and London? We've got the very latest on the cabin, which finished a major refit this month to add six inches of extra legroom.

We had a sneak peak of the Business Premier (long-haul business class), Premium Economy Spaceseats, and Economy Skycouch "cuddle class" a couple of months ago, and also brought you five little-known improvements on the plane and an analysis of which class is best for business trips.

Here's which seats to pick -- and to avoid -- in Premium Economy.

The plane

The Boeing 777-300ER is Air New Zealand's flagship, replacing its older Boeing 747-400 aircraft, most of which are being retired. 

As of April the plane is in full service between Auckland, Los Angeles and London Heathrow, but it's occasionally seen on high-demand flights across the Tasman and on other long-distance routes.

The Premium Economy cabin

Sandwiched between the 777-300ER's Business Premier lie-flat beds and Economy and Economy Skycouch seats are 44 of Air New Zealand's unique Spaceseat Premium Economy seats, in a 2-2-2 configuration. 

Note that the pictures we took of the Premium Economy Spaceseats are of the pre-refit version, so add 4-6 inches of legroom for each row behind the first.

The seats go back six rows (on the left hand side of the plane, seats A & B), seven rows (the right hand side of the plane, seats J and K) and nine rows (the middle pair, seats D & E).

Each pair of seats on the side of the plane (A & B and J & K) is angled towards the windows, as shown below.

Middle pair D & E are angled into the aisle away from each other (see below) but there is a centre section that moves up and down, providing either a side table or some space to spread out into.

The seats slide forward rather than reclining, and also tilt if you're trying to curl up for a snooze.

There's a purple squashy beanbag that's roughly 40 cm cubed in place of a footrest too.

The table folds down from the seat (or wall) in front, with a clever hinge so it can be used either half or fully open. The touchscreen entertainment monitor also pops out on a small arm.

Every seat has a laptop power point; a USB socket for charging smartphones, iPads and the like; and the increasingly common video-in socket to play movies from a portable device on the seat screen.

The best seats on the plane

Row 23: this row contains the best Spaceseat on the plane, even after the refit to add six inches of space to the other seats. They're bulkhead seats ahead of the wing, with extra legroom and space (as shown below).

The only potential downside of being in row 23 is the fact that they're also the bassinet crib seats, so you're more likely to be moved to make room for an infant, and more likely to be disturbed by noise from a baby in-flight.

A and B seats: with two more inches of legroom in rows 24-28 compared with the centre seat pair D & E, and an inch or two more than the right hand pair J and K, these are definitely the ones to pick. But go for seats to the front of the cabin, because the lavatory is right behind row 28. 

24A 24K 25A 25K: if you want to see anything out the window, these seats are your only option. The rest of the cabin is over the large 777-300ER wing.

The worst seats on the plane

D and E seats: if you're tall, these seats are angled so that one of your knees sticks out into the aisle. If you prefer an aisle, go for the B and J seats in the window pairs.

31D 30D 29D 28B: these are right next to the lavatory (see below). There's a small privacy screen to shield 31D and 30D from seeing right into the loo, but they're best avoided.


John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Apr 2011

Total posts 3

Have you heard anything about the rumoured removal of a row of seats to create more leg room?

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

It's an interesting rumour, isn't it? I've heard it from a couple of sources, but haven't yet been able to substantiate it officially. As I said in my original review of the seats before the plane went into service:

These seats would be fantastic long-haul Premium Economy seats if there were just a couple of inches more legroom in each row.

I think new Premium Economy would be an excellent option with a few inches more room. I'm not sure how cutting one row would work, given the staggered numbers of seats in the port, centre and starboard pairs.

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 3

I havent seen these seats in the recline position anywhere. Does anyone know if they recline and if so, how far?? Thanks.

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