After years in development, Air New Zealand has finally pulled back the curtain on its new Business Class seat. It will debut in 2024 on the airline’s new ultra-long nonstop routes connecting Auckland with New York and Chicago. The Star Alliance carrier is also following the trend of airlines turning the first row of Business Class into an upgraded product – which offers enhanced space and privacy.
While Air New Zealand Business Class is loved by many, the current seats and their herringbone layout are often criticised for being too exposed and offering little privacy. This will change with the arrival of the new seats. The herringbone layout remains, but in a new and much improved version that will see the 20-year old original sleeper shells replaced by a brand new seat.
The airline spent over two thousand five hundred hours on customer research during the design process. It concluded that passengers are primarily looking for rest, sleep, privacy and space – aspects that have all taken centre stage when designing the seats.
Air New Zealand is the launch customer of the Visa from French-based Safran Seats. While the current cabin layout on the Air New Zealand Boeing 787 Dreamliners is 1-1-1, the new configuration will be 1-2-1 and the seats will be placed at a lower angle from the windows than before. With the old seats it could be hard to look out the window, something which should not be an issue with the new design.
Privacy: yes, Doors: no
Visa comes with all the expected bells and whistles of a brand-new Business Class seat, but Air New Zealand decided not to fit fully closing doors. A shield can however be extended to provide some extra privacy, and the shell surrounding each seat stands 47” (119 cm) off the floor. The seats will be 20.5″ (52 cm) wide, and turn into 80.25″ (204 cm) flat beds. Entertainment will be provided on 24″ personal monitors and seats will come with USB-A, USB-C, and AC power outlets, Bluetooth audio and wireless charging for phones. Storage will be available in a dedicated storage cabinet, a trinket tray, a deep pocket and a spacious side shelf. An added benefit of the new seats is that they can be put in a reclined position even for taxi, take-off, and landing.
Business Premier Luxe suites
Business Class travellers on many airlines have learned that the first row in each cabin often offers more wiggle room for their feet than all other rows. Several airlines – including JetBlue and China Eastern - are now capitalising on this by turning the first row into an upgraded Business Class seat with more personal space and privacy – at a surcharge. Air New Zealand is introducing Business Premier Luxe suites.
Read the BusinessClass.com list of The Best Business Class Suites
Unlike the regular Business Premier seats, the Business Premier Luxe suites will feature sliding, closing doors, a larger table, a buddy seat - allowing for face-to-face companion dining - and more space to stretch out. The suites will also come with upgraded soft furnishings, including a Merino wool blanket. Each Boeing 787 Dreamliner will feature four or eight Business Premier Luxe suites, depending on the aircraft configuration. Most aircraft will feature 22 Business Premier seats and four Business Premier suites, while specially configured ultra-long range aircraft will have two Business Class cabins offering 42 Business Premier seats and eight Business Premier Luxe suites – four at the front of each cabin.
Starting in 2024, the new seats will be fitted across all 14 of Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9s and on 8 new Boeing 787-10s that are yet to join the fleet. All Boeing 787 aircraft are expected to offer the new seats by 2026.
Air New Zealand is not only introducing new Business Class products. There will also be new seats in Premium Economy and Economy Class. The airline is also introducing Skynest – six lie-flat bunks available to book for four-hour blocks at a surcharge.
For more details on Air New Zealand Business Class, read the full BusinessClass.com review.
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