Up close with Air New Zealand’s next-gen premium economy seat

The Kiwi carrier's latest take on premium economy aims for the sweet spot of comfort and value.

By David Flynn, June 29 2022
Up close with Air New Zealand’s next-gen premium economy seat
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.”

Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat.

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.

Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy cabin.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy cabin.

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.

Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat.

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.

Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as seen at the airline's mock-up centre.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as seen at the airline's mock-up centre.

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.

Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as seen at the airline's mock-up centre.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as seen at the airline's mock-up centre.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as seen at the airline's mock-up centre.
Air New Zealand's latest Boeing 787 premium economy seat, as seen at the airline's mock-up centre.

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

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 798

Hopefully Virgin re-engages with Air NZ, or should I say Air NZ re-engages with with Virgin.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 459

Even though I am QF Life Gold, if I was to consider a paid premium economy fight to the US, I would fore-go the QF FF perks for the extra legroom on the Air NZ product.  I did book an AUK - HNL pre COVID, but got a bargain on an upgrade to Business so didn't get to try Premium.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 135

Hi @GregXL

I too would often ply the AKL - HNL route (pre-COVID). I must say, I was always left very impressed with the product. Every flight, that 9 hours 45 minutes seemed to go by very quickly and enjoyably. So much so, that after the first reluctant time, I broke my personal world-wide 'rule' of only flying business class on flights >7 hours, and I happily settled for this instead. I think this new one will be even better.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 98

Much better than the reincarnation of the J product - 41" pitch, the hard shell and 250mls of NZ pinot noir will do the trick to the west coast US!

Etihad - Etihad Guest

06 Apr 2012

Total posts 118

Agree.  Much better than the 38" pitch that Qantas provides in the Premium Economy on it's Dreamliners....  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 May 2014

Total posts 14

I am a Fan of the Hard Shell seating arrangement - Its my space and nobody can recline into it - Unfortunately Qantas has lost me with their Premium Economy Seats (enhancements). Air New Zealand "go that extra mile" and look after their "guests".

02 Nov 2017

Total posts 13

Agreed I’ve always liked that on JAL PE which has 42” pitch I believe 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 594

Yes it's 42" for JAL and by the time you factor in the included lounge access I reckon the JAL Premium economy is definitely the best of all W class products

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 130

ANZ's new PE product looks inviting, especially for the 14+ hr flights being proposed. I may be shot down for this, but given the width of the 789, a 2x2x2 seating arrangement would be the icing on the cake - the middle seat is not a seller, for any airline. 

Once again profits over comfort. If airlines wish to revolutionize cabin comfort for premium customers, then space is the winner everytime. I would personally forgo the few extra perks of PE on a 20 Hr flight and prefer their skycouch product, not only more room but also the ability to curl up and sleep, and cheaper. Just my thoughts.

We just booked a flight (LAX to SYD via AUCKLAND) with Air New Zealand for the first part of October. Will they be flying yet? I'm wondering if I jumped the gun.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

These new seats won't be flying until 2024, but the current Boeing 787 premium economy seats are pretty good too.


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