Clued-in travellers hopping across the pond can stretch out in an Air New Zealand premium economy seat, yet without paying a cent more than a regular economy ticket.
How? The Kiwi carrier often uses its long-range, three-class Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft on shorter flights between Australia and New Zealand, yet only sells tickets as business class and economy.
That leaves premium economy – and rather than flying it empty, top-tier frequent flyers and travellers on the most expensive economy fares can nab a spot there at no extra charge.
The service is the same as you’d get in economy, but with plenty of room to stretch out, a smaller cabin and a little more privacy, the seats are worth looking out for.
Air New Zealand: finding a spare premium economy seat
When hunting for that free ‘upgrade’, flexibility is key.
Start by finding an Air NZ-operated service across to New Zealand with a three-digit flight number beginning with a ‘1’ – such as NZ104 from Sydney, NZ124 from Melbourne or NZ136 from Brisbane.
(This doesn’t work on flights between Perth and Auckland or other longer routes where premium economy seats are sold normally as premium economy.)
Simply hover your mouse over the ‘1 flight’ text when making your booking to check the aircraft type.
We’re looking for a Boeing 777-300 with Spaceseats or even a 787-9 with more a traditional premium economy cabin (below), rather than the Boeing 767 which also gets NZ1xx flight numbers.
Finally, decide how you’re going to lock in that seat based on your options below.
Free premium economy seats for frequent flyers
Virgin Australia Velocity Gold and Platinum members, plus Air New Zealand Gold and Elite members can plant themselves in premium economy on these routes – even on the cheapest fares that come sans checked baggage.
Just be sure to enter your name and frequent flyer number during the booking process, and when it comes time to select seats, look for those in yellow towards the front of the aircraft:
It also works on the Dreamliner, although on this particular flight from Sydney to Auckland, two savvy frequent flyers had already snapped them up:
Free premium economy seats on expensive fares
If you’re a Silver-level traveller or haven’t progressed beyond the white belt, a premium economy seat could also be yours by buying the highest Works Deluxe economy fare type:
Those can often come in at twice the price of a basic, 'no frills' economy ticket, so a less-expensive option is to a purchase a Seat, Seat+Bag or Works ticket and pay a slight premium: $10 for Works passengers and $20 for all other guests.
Ironically, it’s actually cheaper to relax in premium economy than to secure an exit row seat in regular economy, but each to their own.
So if you’ll be stuck in economy on your next New Zealand hop, be on the lookout for a chance to sit in premium economy instead – whether you get a free bump-up or you shell out a $20 from your own pocket, it sure beats sitting down the very back.
- The best Air NZ premium economy Spaceseats on the Boeing 777
- Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 premium economy seat review
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