Joon Is Turning Head Rests Into Flat Beds

Joon is the new leisure airline from Air France that has been targeting ‘millennials.’ I just fall into the upper end of the age range of what a millennial is, though I don’t really identify as one, as I don’t think I share many of their characteristics (I’ve never used Snapchat, as one example).

Air New Zealand’s Skycouch

Air New Zealand many years ago developed (and trademarked) a unique concept for their economy class seating called ‘Skycouch.’ In certain sets of three window seats on their Boeing 787 and 777 aircraft, the bottom of all three seats folds up to make a flat surface (over the area the legroom would be) making a big ‘couch’ of sorts. This design has been especially popular for families, as it gives more room for small children to spread out.

This concept is marketed towards both parents travelling with children, and adults travelling without children.

The Air New Zealand marketing also shows that adult couples can use this to make a ‘poor man’s business class’ double bed.


Air New Zealand Skycouch

If you’ve ever had a row of three economy seats to yourself you’ve probably realised the pitch is not the problem in trying to lie down straight — it’s the width of the seats.

Air New Zealand’s economy seats on their 777s are 17.1 inches wide. Times that by three, as there are three seats per couch, and you have a length of 51.3 inches. This is the space between arm rests so there would be a couple of extra inches total of actual seat width, so let’s say its 55 inches total.

I’m around 6’0″, so ~72 inches tall.

That means if I was to attempt to lie on a Skycouch I would need to raise my feet up and bend my knees by 18 inches in order to lie down. Otherwise my feet would be hanging out in the already very narrow aisles (Air New Zealand has 10 abreast on their 777s), and I would be constantly woken by other passengers and/or crew/carts knocking my feet.

I could lay diagonally, but there still would not be enough space to stretch out properly.


Air New Zealand Skycouch

So being relatively tall and travelling without children, the Skycouch has not appealed to me even for the extra space it would provide over a standard economy seat. But it has worked for Air New Zealand — they even licensed the concept to China Airlines, which has installed it on select aircraft.

Joon has launched a similar concept, though the execution is quite different to the Skycouch, and since I’m supposedly a millennial, and Joon was launched as a millennial airline, this product should appeal to me.

So let’s take a look.

Cosy Joon

Joon has fitted four middle rows of their 2-4-2 layout A340s with a special feature that allows the headrests of the middle row of seats to be removed, and connected to the base of the seat to extend the seat close to the back of the seat in front.

Uncovered, the connected seat rests look ugly and fairly uncomfortable, but styled with Joon blankets and pillows, suddenly it looks a lot more luxurious and a lot more like a bed.

There’s one big downside and one big upside to this concept compared to the Air New Zealand Skycouch that I can immediately see.

The downside is that because it is a removable extension, it looks lumpy and relatively uncomfortable to lie on. It also doesn’t look like a snug fit either against the back of the seat in front, or to the headrest next to it, based on the way the cabin crew’s hand can slide between the two.

Compare this with the Air New Zealand Skycouch, which looks a lot more snug with the seat in front.

The big upside is that these are being fitted to the four middle seats, rather than the three window seats like Air New Zealand has done.

From the promotional video and some of the Joon photos above, it seems like only the right two headrests come off to make the seat extension, yet the image of the crew member fitting the (uncovered) extension appears to be on the left aisle, so I’m not sure if all four headrests come off, or just the right two (where the children have been placed).

If all four headrests can be moved, this hugely improves the ability to properly lie down flat. I understand Joon’s seats to be 18 inches wide. Four seats across makes 72 inches, so I for example could lie down completely flat with a few inches to spare.

This immediately makes it more appealing than Air New Zealand’s Skycouch whether you are travelling with kids or without as there’s a lot more space with four seats rather than three. This makes me wonder why Air New Zealand didn’t install their Skycouch in the middle sets of four on their 777s rather than just the window sets of threes. I guess it comes down to the economics of allocating four seats to the space rather than three.

But given the height of tall adults laying across narrow seats, the best use of these seating arrangements are parents travelling with children. My sister, who has two young children, assures me that young children get bored easily on flights and don’t like sitting still for long, so having some more ‘play space’ for them over a larger flat surface (rather than a traditional seat) is beneficial.

And Joon is so far offering their Cosy Joon solely to families.

There will only be four rows of Cosy Joon available on each aircraft (so 16 seats in total) in rows 33 to 36, and these will only be available to families with one adult and two children travelling together, or two adults with two children between the ages of two and six.

The best news for families is that the cost is very reasonable to book these special seats. They are available to eligible families:

  • Up to 55 hours before flight departure the cost is the same as a standard seat, at €20 including VAT per seat (additional) from Air France or travel agents
  • Free for Flying Blue Silver, Gold and Platinum members and their families listed on the same booking file
  • Free of charge when checking in online 30 hours before departure, subject to availability obviously

It’s unclear that if these seats are not purchased/selected by eligible families, whether adults/individuals will be able to purchase them, to make a true bed in economy.

Bottom line

I find the Air New Zealand Skycouch advertising a little misleading in suggesting two fully grown adults could comfortably stretch out and sleep properly given it is only ~51 inches across.

If Cosy Joon has four seats across with the seat extension there is much more room and if it were say, one adult with two small children travelling and they were able to secure all four seats, this would surely be a great and very affordable solution for a much more comfortable experience for families. I’m interested to know if all four seats have the extendable feature, or just two.

If you travel with small children I’d love to know what you think of this additional space as the cost seems very reasonable, as I haven’t travelled long distances with children before.

I don’t really understand Joon’s general marketing strategy that I’m apparently the target of (though their millennial focus seems to be shifting), as most of my ‘millennial’ friends don’t have children. But I applaud Joon for offering a solution like this for families, and support their decision to reserve these seats for such groups.

Would you book a row of Cosy Joon seats to travel with your family?

Comments

  1. James, you fail to mention that seat width is inside armrest to inside armrest, so the overall length of the Skycouch would be more than just the sum of the width of three seats.

  2. Having it on the window trio makes sense so that you can lie against the wall… whereas in Joon’s version you are either lying down or not using the space. Unless you’re a kid, that is.

  3. You don’t get a choice about being a Millennial – just like you don’t get a choice about being a Baby Boomer or a member of Generation X. It’s very Millennial to complain about being described as one.

  4. What I don’t understand about “Skycouch” is, and someone please correct me if I’m wrong, is that it’s totally contingent on lucking out and getting a full row to yourself (assuming you’re traveling solo or with a partner). So unless families are constantly booking these rows up, I can’t imagine they are being used that often.

    Unless you and the other two/three people in your row are REALLY open minded…

  5. James, you forgot about Azul’s SkySofa on the A330s that are also four seats wide (and not using the headrests, but the same solution as Air New Zealand). So I would consider Azul’s the best option between all of them (not considering cost, obviously).

  6. @James @Peter

    While I have never flown Air NZ in Y, I did a dummy booking LAX-LHR-LAX and Skycouch cost $699 each way with one traveler. 2 travelers and the price drops to $349. And you don’t have to book Skycouch both ways.

    @Peter even if you book it both ways for one person it’s still less than premium economy, J is far more.

    On my dummy booking Nov28-Des12 Y was $480 without skycouch, W $2800 and J $9500.

  7. Air NZ must have gotten some really short models for the shot above. When I (6’2”) and my wife (5’2”) used an AirCouch it was really uncomfortable for more than a short time. Can’t imagine with a child thrown into the mix. For a single traveler, yes, it’s loads better than a regular coach seat. Luckily we each had our own couch anyway, so after watching some TV together we just went our separate ways and snoozed in our own couches.

  8. How is Air NZ misleading? They are shown either resting their back on the wall or with bent legs.

    As sleeping with your legs bent is the most popular sleeping position, it’s not that much of a stretch to call it a bed (though they call it a couch anyway).

  9. New CEO of Air France – KLM has hinted strongly that he wants to get rid of this idiotic brand, has he not?

    Also grossed out by the idea of using head rests for this…

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