Clues: Air New Zealand’s New Business Class Seat

Filed Under: Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is expected to introduce a new business class seat in the next couple of years, and we now have a better sense of what to expect.

Air New Zealand’s new business class coming soon

We’ve known for a while that Air New Zealand plans to introduce an all new business class product in 2022, coinciding with the airline taking delivery of eight new Boeing 787-10s. Unfortunately I wouldn’t expect these planes to feature the “Skynest” bunk bed concept, since 787-10s won’t be used for ultra long haul flights.

Initially the plan was for most of Air New Zealand’s existing plans to also be retrofitted with these seats, though only time will tell whether that actually happens:

  • With New Zealand’s borders being closed, it’s anyone’s guess when the airline will resume long haul flights
  • Airlines aren’t going to be looking to spend a lot of money once things do return to normal

Personally I’d expect newly delivered aircraft to get these seats, but I wouldn’t be so sure that retrofitting existing aircraft will remain a priority. However, I wouldn’t necessarily expect the timeline for Air New Zealand’s 787-10 order to stick.

Anyway, these new seats would replace Air New Zealand’s current herringbone business class seats, which were introduced back in 2005. At the time these seats were popular, given that they offer direct aisle access and a buddy seat for dining. Unfortunately this seat has become progressively less competitive over the years, and at this point I’d even say it’s subpar.

Air New Zealand may introduce a business class “plus”

Despite the pandemic, Air New Zealand very much seems to be moving forward with plans to introduce a new business class product. The airline is surveying frequent flyers about a potential new product, as noted by both Executive Traveller and FlyerTalk.

In the survey, the airline explains that it’s considering introducing a new business class cabin where there will it will be possible to enhance the experience for those who book the first row.

As the airline explains, there would be a few differences between the first row and other rows:

  • More legroom
  • The ability to have a shared dining experience
  • More privacy, in the sense that no one can look into your space
  • A more premium blanket

The airline then asks for feedback as to which name would be best for this product:

  • Business Premier Retreat
  • Business Premier Plus
  • Business Premier Deluxe
  • Business Premier Alcove

This makes it easy to guess the cabin being considered

Now, I should note that of course things can still change, and it’s theoretically possible Air New Zealand is just throwing out a random idea, though that seems unlikely. After all, Air New Zealand is asking how something should be named, rather than if it should be introduced, which suggests a decision may have already been made.

To me there are two interesting takeaways here:

  • The airline plans to have a “premium” business class in the first row of business class
  • This also tells us what the non-premium business class seats will be like — most significantly, they won’t have doors, they won’t have as much legroom, and they won’t feature a “buddy seat” for dining

Now, while it’s possible that Air New Zealand is considering a brand new product that hasn’t yet hit the market, everything about this description points to one layout — a Vantage XL cabin, with one row of Vantage First.

Thompson Aero Seating markets this configuration as offering “first class for free,” since a row of first class-esque seating can be added without an opportunity cost.

What a Vantage First & Vantage XL cabin looks like

The Vantage First seat is what you’ll find on Malaysia Airlines’ A350-900, which used to be marketed as first class, but is now marketed as Business Suite.

Vantage First seat on Malaysia Airlines A350-900

This seat checks all the boxes Air New Zealand is promising for row one, including a buddy seat for dining, and more privacy.

Then in business class it sounds like Air New Zealand would introduce standard Vantage XL seats, which you’ll find on a variety of airlines, including Qantas.

Vantage XL seat on Qantas Boeing 787-9

Arguably the surprising part here is that Air New Zealand seemingly doesn’t plan to install doors on Vantage XL seats. Delta One Suites are also Vantage XL seats, and those have doors.

Vantage XL seat with door on Delta A330-900neo

Similarly, Shanghai Airlines’ 787-9s have the exact cabins that Air New Zealand seems to be considering, except all seats have doors.

Bottom line

Air New Zealand is expected to introduce a new business class product in 2022, coinciding with the delivery of 787-10s.

While the airline hasn’t formally revealed any details of what we should expect, a survey sent out to frequent flyers gives us some info to go off for speculating, and points to one particular seat. Of course it’s possible the airline changes its mind or doesn’t follow through with this seat, but who doesn’t enjoy a bit of passenger experience speculation. 😉

It does seem likely that Air New Zealand’s new business class product will include Vantage First and Vantage XL seats. What I find strange is that Air New Zealand may not opt to have doors on the Vantage XL seats. That would be a rather disappointing development for an airline only starting to roll out new seats in 2022.

What are you expecting from Air New Zealand’s new business class?

  1. Pre COVID Air New Zealand was for the first time in a while seeing true competition on it’s West Coast to Auckland route. AA’s 787’s really ate ANZ’s 777 J seat for lunch (or rather, dinner and breakfast).

    It always amazed me Kiwi’s patriotic allegiance to a sub-par product and don’t get me started on Air Points. The food and service also really slipped the last 5 years as well as their PE going from the best in the world to pretty forgettable.

    Hopefully, this is an opportunity to step up their game in time for boarders reopening and people finally ticking NZ off the bucket list. Perhaps as unlikely as finding J award space will be Virgin Atlantic retaining that sweet spot of all sweet spots 😉

  2. Never understood why New Zealand and Australia get so much coverage in travel blogs.
    It is super far and honestly not that special unlike East Asia and Japan for instance
    What about reporting more on what’s going on in Japan, South America, Asia, Central Europe, Africa (10 to 100 times larger population size than Australia and New Zealand)?

  3. @ Bon Bolloss — Is that directed at me? Because my last post about Air New Zealand was over six months ago. And personally I *do* think New Zealand is a really special country.

    I’ve written a ton of posts about Japan, South America, Asia, Central Europe, and Africa, in the past six months. Heck, I’ve written about Uganda Airlines twice, imaginary airlines in Africa multiple times, and Surinam Airways, just to give a few examples.

  4. @ Lucky, talking about Australian coverage, maybe the 100th birthday of Qantas is worth a post, no? Cheers, Peter

  5. Why isnt Air New Zealand using the term “Shire” for their new business concept.

    “The shire: an inland area largely sheltered from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth”
    Air NZ Business Premier Shire: “A premier area sheltered from the goings-on in the rest of the economy”

    Add and door and play up how it resembles the famous hobbit holes.

  6. First cubicles now doors at your seat ! Wait a few years and hear how they are rattling at take off and during turbulence… now that’s privacy undisturbed ! Lol

  7. The door obsession is so odd. In business class where space isn’t really that plentiful, I’d personally rather avoid doors.

  8. @Steve_CC: let’s hope they don’t expect only hobbits to fly in the shire… Nothing against the hobbits, just that we regular humans need more space.

  9. @Alexander
    You’re in luck: the vast majority of the world’s business class seats don’t have doors. So there’s no shortage of airlines you can choose.

    Those of us who love doors have far fewer options than you. Please don’t be cross that there is a handful of airlines willing to accommodate us. And it looks like you’ll get to keep ANZ too.

    Choice is good!

  10. Now that a majority of their planes are parked wouldn’t this be a perfect time to retrofit planes…. If they can still afford it.

  11. With all the talk of doors, I’m one who seems to likes curtains over to doors a la AF F and CX’s dayrooms in The Pier F lounge ‍♂️

  12. I typically don’t involve myself in these conversations but I do need to mention the Q-Suite from Qatar Airlines. I’ve had the privilege of flying four times in this level seating and each seat does have its own sliding doors. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be though as on two of the flights, no less than three doors were broken in the cabin. They either fell off or didn’t close. No product is without flaws. It is a nice option for privacy but there are bugs in everything. Concur about AA’s premier product – Seriously lovely

  13. Once you’ve been to New Zealand’s South Island, you’ll truly understand what a breathtakingly beautiful country it is. Coming form a South African that says something

  14. I go with doors every time……I want PRIVACY, I’m fed up with watching people pick their nose, continually flicking over film channels especially when’s it’s a night flight, those who never endingly fidget and arse around with their lighting. I don’t want to see anyone. Yep, I’m a very unsociable traveller and Virgin’s and ANZ’s atrociously designed ‘Herringbone’ seats are on a par with BA’s older Club seats giving no privacy whatsoever.

  15. @ Bon Bolloss what a ridiculous comment. The whole idea of a travel blog is about going somewhere else. And further, many readers, me included, live in Australia and New Zealand. In which case, it’s not far away at all.

  16. ANZ is horrendous. Agree w/many comments above. Don’t understand the goo goo gah gah subpar hype. Food is mediocre and the kiwi “charm” appears fake.

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