Best business class seats: Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Business Premier

By Chris C., April 19 2016
Best business class seats: Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Business Premier

Bucking the trend in modern business class cabins which often adopt a 1-2-1 layout, Air New Zealand 'Business Premier' business class comes instead in a 1-1-1 configuration on its Boeing 787-9s that you'd otherwise expect of first class.

Like 1-2-1, that provides each traveller with direct and uninterrupted access to the aisle, but also sees you facing towards that aisle, rather than straight ahead as you might traditionally be accustomed.

Spread across six rows, you'll find the 'A' seats (such as 1A, 2A etc.) on the far left, the 'J' seats running down the centre of the aircraft and the K seats lining the windows on the right.

Even though they're all the same basic seat, not every business class pod is created equal – we show you the best and also share which are best avoided the choice is yours.

Best seats in Air NZ's Boeing 787-9 business class

3A, 4A: All things considered, we'd peg these seats as the best all-rounders. Nestled a few rows back from the galleys and restrooms but a few rows forward of the premium economy baby bassinets, you're in an acoustic 'sweet spot' in avoiding one noise source without becoming too prone to another.

The left aisle is also used only by passengers in the 'A' seats, which means five other travellers roaming past as opposed to twice that in the other aisle: and being further back, you'll hardly notice the passengers in the forward rows.

6A, for privacy: With the business class curtain directly behind 6A and separating this area from premium economy travellers, the only people passing your seat mid-flight should be the cabin crew as other travellers will all walk forward from their seat to use the facilities, not backward.

Beware, though, the benefits of this seat are moot if a screaming child is planted directly in the bassinet behind you.

Any other 'A' seat: Again, for the benefit of less aisle traffic which means less chance of being bumped or disturbed by heavy footsteps – the further back the better.

1K, with an infant: Whether holidaying with the family or bringing them along on your business trip, 1K is the only Business Premier seat with bassinet facilities. Other travellers, however, note that you may be asked to move to accommodate families with small children.

Consecutive seats, for couples: At first glance, choosing a 'J' and 'K' pair across the aisle might seem suitable for couples wanting to chat...

... but remember you'll be talking – nay, projecting – at a volume audible to other passengers, whereas choosing consecutive seats in the same area, such as 3A+4A, 2J+3J or 4K+5K allows one passenger to turn back slightly for an easy chat above the seat's privacy shell.

If you get separated in the cabin, one member of the couple can always use the other's footrest as an ottoman to share a meal together or chit-chat, so keep that as your back-up plan.

Otherwise, avoid 1K, 2K, 3K: A crew rest facility in the ceiling above seats 1J, 2J and 3J means these travellers have no lockers of their own...

... and therefore place their luggage in the lockers above 1K, 2K and 3K. On overnight flights, these seats are best avoided by lighter sleepers as these centre passengers may disturb you when retrieving items from the lockers above your head.

Avoid 6K: This is another gamble: it's the second-most private seat in the cabin but suffers the same fate as 6A due to another baby bassinet directly behind that has the potential to disturb.

Also read: Review – Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 business class

Some original material by David Flynn.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 442

I will never understand the logic behind designing window seats that face away from the window. When you compare these to the popular Zodiac Cirrus seats adopted by CX, BA, AA, VA, QR and many others you wonder why NZ ever thought this design would work - they look cramped, zero privacy, very litle storage and2/3rds of the cabin is facing the wrong way. Who wants to look at the aisle for 12 hours?!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

The lack of any decent seat for couples travelling together seems a very strange arrangement.  You have to wonder who thought this layout was a good idea.

24 Apr 2016

Total posts 23

Position of your head would be far from the aisle. This is good since there would be less sound of the traffic. But apart from that, there is nothing more to brag about this configuration.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 685

Not having yet flown on the NZ 787-9 it appears the positioning of the IFE screen looks somewhat uncomfortable in J class. Is it an allusion or do you really have to look sideways to your left to view? Surely, moving the screen an additional 3-4 inches to the right might help avoid what looks like a real 'neck strainer' on longhaul.

06 Jun 2015

Total posts 11

You know it pops out yeah?

01 Jul 2011

Total posts 11

The biggest issue with the seat is it's hard to get comfortable. It's got a pretty limited recline so you just just lay back quite a bit and relax. Instead you have to get it made into a bed then get 4/5 pillows and lie up against the wall/windows.

Great for sleeping as its desinged for that no bumps and lumps from the contour of the seat but just no so great for those long daytime flights like AKL/CHC-PER.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 207

I ifnd the the "backs to the window" arrangement very odd, with no opportunity for any glimpses out of the window without straining your neck and the claustrophobic pods make this an unpleasant arrangement.  One to avoid.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 16

So? Boeing gives us lovely big windows to turn our backs to.

The ticket could be free and I would not fly in this cabin.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 199

The layout really confuses couples who book the middle seats, only to find out that they are totally separated. Then begins the game of trying to shift a lot of folks around to re-seat them. Also it's a hassle converting the seats to bed mode for shorter journeys such as PER-AKL. And the high partitions create a very warm environment. Plus it's difficult to get out of your seat when the table and screen are in place. The only good seats are the A row IMO.

18 Mar 2014

Total posts 94

Agree with some of the comments, however, IMO this is the most comfortable J class product I've slept on. And when on a 12 hour overnight flight to the US, that is my first priority.

I have been told that these seats are smaller (more cramped) than those on the NZ 777's. Is this true?

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 197

I agree, it is odd that the window seats face the aisle but this configuration was developed in 2004 with the introduction of the 777's and was based on Virgin Atlantic design. At the time its was popular with airlines but now is somewhat outdated, espcially with the availability of Zodiac Cirrus seats.

I agree with the various comments, that the window seats should be window facing as opposite to aisle facing. I hate looking at the other person sitting opposite you on the other side of the aisle.

I think that NZ should look at Zodiac Cirrus seats for the remaining 3 787's due for delivery 2017/2018.

I already have advised NZ with my thoughts on the current seating in Business Premier.

When you listen to the comments in the AKL international Koru Lounge, there is general feeling by NZ frequent flyers/Koru members who are not happy about the layout.

My preferred seating on the 787's is 4A, 5A or 6A.

For pilotdude09, I agree with your comments about the seats for daylight flights.

For readsunnycoast, the seats are narrower in Business Premier on the 787's compared to the 777's. Tried both types of seats.

17 Dec 2013

Total posts 8

Yes, it brought me back to my Virgin Atlantic flights.  Little privacy and complicated convert to lay flat bed

Air NZ really need to look at updating Business Premiere, either to a BE Super Diamond (a la Virgin Australia/Qatar) or to the new BE/Panasonic "Waterfront" suites. They also should bring back pyjamas! But seriously, those are the only two things that Business Premiere really needs... otherwise its a great product as it is.

However I don't expect them to do this until they get a new airframe.


21 Apr 2016

Total posts 1

What good is it to know where the best seats are located when the seats themselves are aweful?

(i) limited recline while seating

(ii) has to physically get up and fold the seat down to convert the seat into a bed

(iii) either sit almost up-right or lay flat completely, not practical for sleeping shortly after a meal, especially for people suffering from acid reflux

(iv) the bed is hard because it is basically the back side of a seat, and then the so call mattress provided hardly makes a difference because it is so thin

(v) in an emergency, one has to physically get up to convert the bed back into seat again before sitting down again (stupid and crazy)

(vi) back to window

(vii) no couple seats for travelling with a partner



19 Sep 2013

Total posts 199

Yesterday's flight introduced a new issue - having to eat a meal in close proximity to next door's bare feet. On the short flight it seemed that the FAs spent a lot of time assisting passengers to convert the seat into a bed and back again, sometimes in a half- hour. May try another airline when next travelling to NZ.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2016

Total posts 9

First comments on ABT. Apologies if I tread on any toes.

I actually ended up here after reading about the new BA seat.

Reading the comments there's a number about no couples seats. I suppose for some that's important but we live together so hardly need to be glued to each others' side on a plane. We watch movies alone and sleep alone on a plane so the couple thing is a non issue.  We tried the centre 'couple' seats on BA J and hated them. Hated looking in to the face of people we didn't know when the screens were down, hated stepping over them when we needed to get up. Hate is a strong word but gee we couldn't wait to get off that plane. I look out of the window as we take off and land and reading reviews most say is no issue to turn to look out the window. Facing the aisle will be the weirdest thing.

We'll find out in five weeks when we head to South America. 773 and 772 so not a direct comparison but 3K and 4K so we'll see if we can manage not sitting next to each other,


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