Revealed: Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites

The all-new Business Premier seats and Luxe suites will debut in 2024 on direct flights to New York and Chicago.

By David Flynn, June 29 2022
Revealed: Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites
Executive Traveller exclusive

Air New Zealand is radically relaunching international business class across its Boeing 787 fleet, and Executive Traveller has your first look at the new seats and suites – yes, we’re talking about spacious well-appointed Luxe suites which transform the first row of Business Premium into an even more premium experience.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

But the Star Alliance member isn’t stopping there: the tip to-tail makeover embraces a fresh take on premium economy and introduces the world’s first full-length lie-flat beds in economy, in the form of innovative ‘Skynest’ sleeping bunks.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suite adds space and privacy.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suite adds space and privacy.

Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 787 Business Premier seats

The NZ flag-carrier’s 20-year old sleeper shells, with their narrow confines and a steep rake that sees many passengers facing one another like commuters on a bus, are finally on the way out – although they’ve got another two years in the sky before the 2024 Business Premier seats take wing.

Time's up, and not before time, for Air New Zealand's current angled business class pods.
Time's up, and not before time, for Air New Zealand's current angled business class pods.

But these new seats will be worth the wait.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

Air New Zealand has adopted an admittedly more conventional layout, although with an all-new design which shifts the cabin from open space to your own space, and from the communal to the individual.

Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites

Beyond those Business Premier seats, all Boeing 787-9s will be crowned by a row of more spacious and private Business Premier Luxe suites at the very front of the business class cabin.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

While the core features of the Business Premier seat and the Business Premier Luxe suite are identical, the Business Premier Luxe suite boasts the following additions:

  • a fully private suite, accomplished by two sliding partitions
  • additional space for you to stretch out
  • a ‘buddy seat’ where a companion can sit and share a meal, a glass of wine or a game of cards
  • a larger meal table, also made with companion dining in mind
  • soft product such as a Merino wool ‘throw’
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

While Air New Zealand says it entertained Luxe suite options such as “a personal wardrobe or a mini-bar, the strong feedback we got was ‘just give us extra space’.”

Executive Traveller samples the 1A experience of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites.
Executive Traveller samples the 1A experience of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites.

Air New Zealand will price its Business Premier Luxe suites at a premium over standard business class, although the airline’s not yet revealed how much extra high flyers will have to pay for this primo pew.

Executive Traveller samples the 1A experience of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites.
Executive Traveller samples the 1A experience of Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier Luxe suites.

The standard Business Premier seat is also fitted with a sliding panel which extends along the seat’s shelf next to the aisle. providing an extra degree of privacy for passengers without fully enclosing their space.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier seat features a sliding privacy panel.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier seat features a sliding privacy panel.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier seat features a sliding privacy panel.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier seat features a sliding privacy panel.

The shell surrounding the Business Premier seats and suites stands 47” off the floor, with the sliding doors and panels at 45” high.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

Standard features of all Business Premier business class seats include

  • a storage cabinet with a mirror inside the door
  • a spacious side shelf
  • a ‘trinket tray’ for stowing your phone, watch, jewellery and other oddments
  • a deep storage pocket with plenty of room to keep iPad or a small handbag within easy reach
  • USB-A, USB-C and AC power outlets 
  • wireless charging for smartphones, headphones and the like
  • a massive 24” personal video screen
  • Bluetooth audio streaming to your own cordless headphones or earbuds
  • a bed slightly longer than the current business class seat, which in sleep mode will be dressed with a memory foam mattress and feather pillow
  • the seat can also be put into a reclined position for the taxi, take-off and landing stages of the journey
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

Business Premier seats located on either side of the plane are angled slightly inwards, but still close enough to the window to enjoy the view; the paired middle seats face slightly outwards, towards the aisle, although a sliding panel lets you share the experience with your partner in the  adjacent middle seat.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier cabin.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier cabin.

The cabin itself also sees a softer, gentler and more relaxing colour scheme which draws its tones, patterns and touches of iridescence from New Zealand’s native Tui bird.

Designing Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 787 Business Premier class

Although Air New Zealand began work on its next-generation business class in 2017, the first few years were primarily devoted to in-depth research on what its long-range travellers wanted, interspersed with scores of studies and mock-ups. 

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

“There’s been over 170,000 design hours put into these new products and we've spent an enormous amount of time – in fact, 2,571 hours of customer research – and talking to our customers to figure out what it is they wanted from us” reflects Leanne Geraghty, Air Nw Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer.

This included “speaking with experts in their field… and of course live customer testing, bringing in our most frequent flyers and key stakeholders to do live testing. And that has been incredibly valuable, they’ve told us what's really important to them.”

Rest and sleep, privacy and space all came to the fore, Geraghty says.

“I don't think that would come as a surprise to anyone, but that's what our customers told us.”

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

Armed with this data, the carrier made the rounds of the world’s leading aircraft seat developers, eventually settling on a new design from French-based multinational Safran Seats.

Air New Zealand is the prestigious global launch customer for this platform, which Safran developed under the codename of Fantail and has since christened Visa.

“(Visa) was born from our Advanced Concept Team where we look at new designs and innovations,” Safran Seats exec Victoria Foy tells Executive Traveller.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

“We shared this particular project with Air New Zealand in 2019 and they really liked it, so we worked in strong collaboration with them to evolve it into the (finished) product they wanted, to fit their needs… they really emphasised to us the importance of comfort and sleep for their passengers.”

“When you're travelling away from home, the first night you’re away is actually the most challenging night to get a restful sleep,” Geraghty adds.

“So everything that we've put on board the aircraft is really about instilling a sense of calm and creating the right environment for our customers to get some rest – from the lighting and sleep ritual including sleepy teas and balms, to the healthier food choices and breathable fabrics.” 

Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 787 Business Premier rollout

The new Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe suites will be fitted across the entire Boeing 787-9 fleet across 2024-2026, along with the yet-to-be-delivered Boeing 787-10s – but not the Boeing 777s, which the airline plans to retire before this decade is done.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier.

For the Boeing 787-9s, Air New Zealand will roll out two configurations:

  • a standard layout will contain 22 Business Premier seats in a single cabin, topped by a Row 1 of four Business Premier Luxe suites, will cover most short- to medium-range routes including Asia
  • an ultra-long range  layout – dominated by new Dreamliner deliveries – will see 42 Business Premier seats across two cabins, with the first row of each cabin containing four Business Premier Luxe suites (for a total of eight suites); these jets will focus on marathon US routes such as New York and Chicago, and will also sport the radical Economy Skynest bunks.

Moving from the airline’s current three-across Business Premier configuration to this 1-2-1 layout delivers a noticeable increase in business class capacity, and allied with a 52-seat premium economy cabin, the airline notes that its ultra-long range Dreamliner will have almost the same premium cabin capacity as its larger Boeing 777-300ER jets.

David Flynn travelled to Auckland as a guest of Air New Zealand

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 228

To me looks like inspiration from Virgin Australia.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 576

My thoughts exactly.  

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 205

I'm flabbergasted that they think inwards facing seats are acceptable.  Yes, these look to have much better room than the current offerings, now comparable with other airlines, but the other big complaint you hear all the time about their current business seats is that they face the aisle and other passengers.   

UA *Gold Lifetime

18 Dec 2015

Total posts 8

170,000 iterations and they came up with the worst version of herringbone facing inwards. Fail. 

Very interesting, but a long way off.

Does anybody know when the Auckland/Buenos Aires will return ?

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 15

They said when they stopped it that it wouldn't be coming back.

08 Apr 2020

Total posts 3

Simply bizarre to have an angled seat facing away from the window and directly into other passengers!! Reminds me of the bizarre and ridiculous Singapore Air angled business class seats which are just plain dumb and the most uncomfortable I have ever flown!!!!

What are you people thinking????

07 May 2015

Total posts 34

Did you even look at the photos? These seats won't have you facing directly into other passengers. But yes, of course Air NZ must be "dumb" to not do exactly what you want them to do. Obviously you know better than them. What a joke some of you lot are, just avgeeks who love to whinge without even thinking things through.

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 205

No, just people who fly a lot.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Dec 2012

Total posts 54

Surprised they have continued with inwards facing - to me that just lacks privacy

07 May 2015

Total posts 34

"Lacks privacy"? Did you even look at the photos? Plenty of privacy, relatively speaking.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

23 May 2013

Total posts 44

While most airlines are increasing the size of their premium cabins, it seems strange NZ are only going with 26 J seats on their ‘regular’ configuration used for Asia and no doubt Australia. Especially while QF rolls more and more 330s onto Tasman routes 

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 15

With the schedule Aussie will see plenty of the larger cabin planes. As when the NA planes arrive into AKL in the morning they will go off and do an Aussie turn before doing the NA flight in the evening.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 194

installing this in 2024? already outdated by other airlines design-not even properly enclosed space just a little partition pull out thing plus all these extra charges?? Also really pathetic that the seat are facing toward the aisle-do they ask what pax really like and want or they just go for the idiot option???

07 May 2015

Total posts 34

LOL, commenters like you are such an embarrassment. You obviously believe you know better than all the experts with decades of experience who've spent years working on this, and without any insight into other factors like cost, weight etc?

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 194

you must be working for air sheep to bleat stupid comments like this- I flew most  quality airlines both first and business so had experience which is good and which is not-if you could understand what I said -the release date for this product is in 2024 -even now most 5 star airlines offer better product than this just research the market as obviously you didn't travel on them to tell the difference--the design takes into account all the things you mentioned cost weight etc-don't tell me  that it makes a difference to face those seats towards the windows and away from the aisles and put a proper sliding door instead of this ridiculous pull out partition plastic

Etihad - Etihad Guest

10 Apr 2019

Total posts 5

Dude chill, people are allowed to voice their opinion without you jumping on every 2nd comment blasting them about how wrong you think they are.

07 May 2015

Total posts 34

Okay, so this is no QSuite but who in their right mind was expecting that? This new seat is a massive advance from the old business class, I don't mind that the seats are angled a little towards the aisle because there are compromises when you go totally forward-facing or angled towards the window, of course not every commenter here actually understand that. I like the extra privacy you get by being away from the aisle plus that half-sliding panel is a nice touch. The Luxe suite is a very smart idea, I expect to see more airlines doing this especially those that don't have first class. Overall this looks very spacious and comfortable and up to the task.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 576

Putting aside for one moment TB's use of an armour-plated, military-grade HUMMER to drive home his point, he does have a good one.  If 'uber privacy' is essential (as some contributors seem to prefer), fly in the QSuite on Qatar, the 'Residence' on Emirates or hire a Gulfstream and fly private, otherwise these are a big improvement over the narrow Herringbone seats they replace (and with which I'm personally all too familiar).   

Is it just me?  Am I the only one laughing at the 170,000 design hours and 2,571 hours of customer engagement?  Oh that those statistics were even  remotely capable of verification or audit.  Gimme a break !!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 May 2020

Total posts 27

Doesn’t look very private.  Why don’t all seats have sliding doors.  Massive fail.

24 Apr 2022

Total posts 2

Looks very private to me with ample personal space. Having your head as far from the aisle as possible will aid a less disturbed sleep but also having the seat at a fairly acute angle to the window wall allows you to look at the view without straining your neck muscles per NZs current Business Premiere seat. It also looks like a foot cubby rather than the current design where your feet are almost in the aisle. Well done Air NZ I hope it works for you. Having said that, I will be down the back now that I have to pay the fare - perhaps a sleep pod for me, its the lie flat that sends me to sleep.

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 83

It looks from the pics that the shoulder room isn’t great for big Aussie/Kiwi blokes (that marketing pic with the slim lady even has her on her side). Let’s hope I’m wrong because the rest looks average. But their soft product is always good.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 92

Hi David

Given the reasonable comments about the inward facing angle given the disaster of the "look at my socks and ingrown toenail" 😂 previous seats, what was your experience actually sitting at that angle?

Thanks

Ian

03 Jun 2016

Total posts 2

Quite a bit of overreaction regarding the new product. The seat is less angled from the window and so don't think a slight turn of the neck and torso is a major for the 1 hour or so you choose to look out the window on your 12 hour long journey. Most of my time flying business is lying flat or staring at the TV screen. I don't like inward facing seats as they feel claustrophobic to me, so like the idea of line of sight towards the aisle opening. I like the fact that it doesn't look too built up around the seat, again feeling less enclosed but nice to have a privacy option with the sliding panel. The top half of the sleep mode space looks slightly wider than other carriers as well. Looking forward to trying it out

04 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

For all of the investment, time and secrecy, I am underwhelmed with this conservative update.  Its going to be perfectly comfortable but it doesn't break any new ground. It really doesn't take 2 years of study to get the feedback that people want more space.  I was expecting innovation on the level Finnair's new seat.

I've always perceived Air New Zealand's business class as a value proposition over Qantas and the American Carriers with more reasonable fares; and cheerful and unpretentious service. Hopefully that is still part of what they offer customers going forward and even with more competitive seat and layout.

Mc
Mc

BA

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 21

Certainly a quantum leap from their current business class but I am still not entirely happy with the seat being angled towards the aisle. Possibly it is to provide a wider area for the feet whilst sleeping as some seats I have experienced have cubby holes that are simply too small. I am also curious about the location of the Screen as the viewing angle seems to be slightly offset from the seat. Is possibly simply due to the angle at which the photos are taken but if it is actually offset and does not hinge out of its position that aspect seems to be an odd error in design. Depending on comments from real fare paying customers, I might consider trying LHR/JFK and then onward from JFK/AKL route when this gets going.


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