For a couple of years now we’ve known that Air New Zealand was working on developing a new business class seat, though the airline has publicly revealed almost no details. We now finally have a sense of what to expect, thanks to a regulatory filing from the airline, as first noted by paxex.aero.
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier seats
There’s a lot that goes into developing a new seat, and Air New Zealand has just filed with the United States Department of Transportation regarding its new seat. Specifically, the airline is seeking approval for the accessibility features of its new seats prior to installing these seats. And interestingly this filing contains all kinds of (low resolution) pictures of the seats. So we now know what to expect.
To start, here is a seatmap of Air New Zealand’s new business class cabin on the Boeing 787-9, which will feature 42 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
According to the filing, seats will be 20.5″ wide, and will turn into 80.25″ flat beds. Furthermore, seat pitch will be 45″, with each seat being aligned at a 24 degree angle to the aircraft fuselage. It doesn’t appear that the standard business class seats will have doors.
I’m really confused, because it would appear that Air New Zealand has selected herringbone seats (meaning all seats face away from the windows and toward the aisles), which is a puzzling choice.
Based on what we know so far, I can’t quite make out what seat manufacturer Air New Zealand will be using. Is this some sort of modified Adient Ascent seat, similar to Qatar Airways’ new 787-9 business class, and what Hawaiian Airlines will introduce on its 787-9s? That’s my best guess…
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier Luxe seats
Here’s another interesting angle. We’ve known that Air New Zealand plans to introduce a “premium” business class in the first row of the cabin, as frequent flyers had been surveyed about a potential name for this going as far back as 2020.
It seems that this is happening, and that there will be four Business Premier Luxe seats, located in the first row of the cabin. The seats will be in a 1-2-1 configuration, but will feature more space. According to the filing, the first row of seats will feature more space, a door, and a larger ottoman.
There’s no indication yet of how pricing will work for this. Will there be a special fare class for these seats, or will there just be a consistent upcharge to select Business Premier Luxe, regardless of how you book your ticket?
When will Air New Zealand install its new business class?
Air New Zealand is requesting approval for the accessibility features of these new seats by April 2022, so it sounds like we should expect these seats to be installed on planes in the coming months, based on that timeline.
The filing refers specifically to Boeing 787-9s, so it would appear that Air New Zealand’s plan is to first reconfigure existing planes with these new seats. Air New Zealand has a fleet of 14 Boeing 787-9s, so who knows, maybe it’s not out of the question that the new cabins could debut in time for the September 2022 launch of Auckland to New York flights.
Air New Zealand also has eight Boeing 787-10s on order, which should be delivered starting in 2024. I would imagine that these planes will also get the new seats, though they won’t be used for ultra long haul flights (as the 787-10 has less range than the 787-9).
My take on Air New Zealand’s new business class
Air New Zealand desperately needs a new business class product, Currently the airline has a standard herringbone product in business class, in a 1-1-1 configuration, which was first introduced back in 2005. This was an exciting product 15+ years ago, but at this point is outdated.
That being said, I’m rather underwhelmed by what we’ve seen so far about Air New Zealand’s new business class. Let me of course acknowledge that all we’ve seen so far are small pictures with a prototype of the product, so I imagine the cabin finishes will likely be more interesting in reality, and perhaps higher quality pictures will reveal more features.
A few thoughts:
- Air New Zealand plans to significantly increase premium capacity; currently 787-9s feature up to 27 business class seats, while in the future the airline plans to have 42 business class seats
- I’m puzzled by Air New Zealand’s choice to seemingly exclusively introduce herringbone seats (meaning all passengers will face the aisle), when reverse herringbone seats are much more popular with consumers
- I’m surprised that Air New Zealand won’t be installing doors in business class seats, except in the first row
So while I do think Air New Zealand’s new business class product looks like an improvement, it’s not exactly an impressive product, considering that this is only starting to be rolled out in 2022 at the earliest.
Air New Zealand is inching closer to introducing its new business class product. In regulatory filings, the airline has revealed details of its new business class, which could debut on select Boeing 787-9s as early as this year.
With this new product, Air New Zealand will significantly be increasing premium capacity, and we can expect 42 business class seats per aircraft, compared to the current 18-27 business class seats.
Based on what we know so far, Air New Zealand’s new business class will consist of herringbone seats, with the first row of four seats being special seats known as Business Premier Luxe. Only those four seats are expected to feature doors.
It seems like Air New Zealand won’t really be revolutionizing with these new cabins, but it should still represent a nice improvement.
What do you make of Air New Zealand’s new business class?