Executive Traveller exclusive
While Air New Zealand’s all-new Boeing 787-9 business class seats and Luxe suites take centre stage, the Kiwi carrier’s fourth-generation premium economy seats – also making their debut in 2024 – take aim at the sweet spot for comfort and value.
In the airline’s own words, premium economy is about “a bit more of everything: a little more space, a little better food, little treats, delights and surprises that leave our guests feeling extra special.”
Supplied by German manufacture Zim, using a similar model to Lufthansa’s latest premium economy, the AirNZ seats offer more only more personal real estate but greater privacy, with extended ‘wings’ wrapping around the wide padded headrest.
A ‘fixed shell’ design sees each premium economy seat make a deep recline into its own housing rather than intruding on the passenger behind – which also means you won’t have passengers ahead of you pushing their setback into your space.
The seats are 19" wide, and Air New Zealand has retained the same 41" pitch as its current well-regarded Boeing 787-9 premium economy.
There’s also a boost to storage space, with a generous laptop-sized recess between seats plus pockets in front, under a video screen that’s been pleasingly upsized from 13” to 15” – and like all screens from tip to tail on the Dreamliners, audio can be streamed via Bluetooth to your own cordless headphones or earbuds.
Each seat has its own USB-A, USB-C and AC power outlets, while the generous spacing between seats is optimised for the swing-up calf-rest.
Self-serve Sky Pantry refreshment bars with snacks and drinks sit at the rear of the cabin, although it’s less of a space for standing and stretching and more a place to ‘grab and go’ back to your seat.
Air New Zealand promises premium economy passengers wail enjoy “premium dining and Champagne” drawn from the business class menu, along with “sneak peaks of future products that will deliver a little luxury.”
The airline says premium economy skews at around 78% holiday-makers and 19% business travellers, and admits “while our competitors are investing in premium economy, in the recent cost-cut climate, ours has been diminished.”
And with the Dreamliners also gaining extra-legroom Economy Stretch rows – currently restricted to the Boeing 777s – “premium economy needs to work harder to differentiate and justify the price-point.”
On new Boeing 787s, which will largely be flown to US destinations, the dedicated premium economy cabin will see 52 seats arranged in a 2-3-2 layout; refreshed Dreamliners will host a smaller cabin of 33 premium economy seats.
David Flynn travelled to Auckland as a guest of Air New Zealand