Air New Zealand reveals biggest cabin overhaul in 20 years, new seats and Skynest coming

Cheree Kinnear talks to Air New Zealand’s flight program manager Kerry Reeves about the exciting changes coming to their cabins. Video / Jed Bradley / NZ Herald / Air NZ

Air New Zealand’s Dreamliners are undergoing the airline’s biggest cabin transformation in almost 20 years.

The airline’s new aircraft will be equipped with new-style seats throughout and will have an ultra-luxury business class area, the outdated herringbone layout in Business Premier will be modified, and there will be new areas for passengers further back in the aircraft to graze. and stretch during flights.

Innovative new sleeping pads for economy passengers, Skynest, launched just when the pandemic hit, have been further developed and are now awaiting regulatory approval before it is installed.

Aircraft entertainment is renewed – including meditative content, Zentertainment – will play on much larger seat back screens than on current aircraft.

The all-new interior will be in new aircraft and retrofitted to the airline’s 14 existing Boeing 787s from mid-2024. The new aircraft will have a much higher share of the new Business Premier Luxe, Business Premier and Premium Economy seats to meet the demand for more advanced leisure travelers, especially on North American routes.

Apparently sleeping pillows will accommodate six passengers.  Photo / Delivered
Apparently sleeping pillows will accommodate six passengers. Photo / Delivered

After work at a test facility near Auckland’s headquarters over the past five years – and pandemic – related delays – Air New Zealand has unveiled what they hope will give passengers “the best sleep in the sky”.

The airline says it has responded to “overwhelming” customer feedback on the importance of sleep and the need for more comfort and space. Already announced was a new menu that will be introduced on long-haul routes later this year, but the airline gave media from New Zealand and abroad a top on the new seats and cabin this week.

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran says the airline aims to create the best flight experience and says the new cabin will be combined with world-leading Kiwi hospitality provided by the crew. One of the first routes the airline will use the new aircraft on is the direct flight between Auckland and New York which will take more than 17 hours to reach New Zealand. The direct flight to Chicago is also an ultra-long-haul service.

“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead the ultra-long travel experience. We have zero sleep, comfort and well-being because we know how important it is for our customers to get rested.”

The airline has fallen behind its rivals when it comes to renewing its cabins, and Foran said it was a proud moment to finally unveil five years of hard mahi, in what is truly “a cabin of opportunity. One that will give customers opportunities to to close their eyes. no matter where they sit. “

Some revenue from the recent $ 1.2 billion capital raising will be spent on the new cabins.

Skynest, which was first announced in 2020, will be a world first.

“We wanted to offer our financial customers a horizontal alternative, and that’s how Skynest was born. It will be a real change in the economy for the travel experience.”

The interior gets a new color palette and leather seats fall away in favor of fabric. The switch saves about one kilo in weight per seat.

The new aircraft will be more premium-tight.

Air NZ's Leanne Geraghty and Greg Foran in Business Premier Luxe.  Photo / Delivered
Air NZ’s Leanne Geraghty and Greg Foran in Business Premier Luxe. Photo / Delivered

The eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft coming from 2024 and retrofitting the current 787-9 fleet will have either eight or four Business Premier Luxe seats, 42 or 22 Business Premier, 52 or 33 Premium Economy, 125 or 213 Economy. seats, and – especially on the ultra-long plane – six Skynest sleeping capsules.

For years, airline executives have wanted to replace the sharply angled business seats.

“The angle of these seats has been considered because once the research is done, we know that people do not [like] have your head right next to an aisle, “said Foran.

Chief customer and sales manager Leanne Geraghty says that the cabin’s interior design is inspired by the uniqueness of Aotearoa, from the forest-inspired rug to the seats that draw inspiration from the native bird, Tui.

The airline’s investigations showed that the first night away from home is the most difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

“Everything we do on board is to help create a sense of calm – from the light and sleep ritual, including sleepy tea and conditioner, to healthier food choices and breathable substances. On-screen meditative content, Zentertainment, will also help customers relax and get ready to rest. ”

Business Premier seats have a hard back to prevent passengers from sitting back.  Photo / Delivered
Business Premier seats have a hard back to prevent passengers from sitting back. Photo / Delivered

The airline has also added a Sky Pantry to the Premium Economy and Economy cabins (near the back of the cabin), so passengers can stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat and hydrate when at rest throughout the journey.

“It gives them the opportunity to go and do it themselves, have a drink, get something to eat, [if] they need a bite to eat at any time during the flight, “she said Herald.

“Our new cabin experience is set to be world-class, and we know our customers will love it.”

In Premium cabins, the airline will also switch to service goods that are 20 percent lighter, and help reduce carbon emissions, and in economy, the new service goods, including new containers for sugar cane pulp, will reduce plastic barrels used on board the aircraft by 28 million each year.

Front said that there were big steps the airline could take such as working on sustainable aviation fuel and using new engines, and many small ones such as reducing weight where it could.

Please sit down

Business Premier Luxe

More space and privacy with all the features of Business Premier, but with a completely closed door and space for two to eat.

Business Premier

The new layout brings the cabin more in line with other carriers with seats facing forward and no twist to look out the window. More privacy and a screen between the two middle seats are pushed back so that companions can talk.

Premium economy

The hard back of the seat provides more privacy and protected space where passengers can sit back without disturbing the person behind.

Economy Skynest

There will be a Skynest with six beds for rent during the flight. Price and rental time have not yet been determined. The airline is sure to get government approval.

New financial seats will be created in the USA.  Photo / Grant Bradley
New financial seats will be created in the USA. Photo / Grant Bradley

Economy Skycouch

Skycouch was introduced a decade ago and is popular with families.

Economy Stretch

The seats have a four-inch (10 cm) larger pitch (the measure between one seat back and the same point on the front) than standard economy seats. No details on what extra it will cost.

Finance seat

More storage space and space due to a thinner shell and a 50 percent larger screen for entertainment.

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