From 'cattle' to 'cuddle' class: Air New Zealand offers beds in economy
Last updated at 2:48 PM on 26th January 2010
We have all been there. Looking longingly at luxurious business class seats as we settle into cattle class to spend up to ten or more hours fighting for an armrest and some much needed shut-eye.
Now one airline has thrown down the gauntlet and is giving exhausted economy class passengers a chance to put their head down.
Dubbed 'Cuddle Class' the Air New Zealand offering applies to the three-seat blocks on its new planes and is being pitched at couples and families with two - admittedly young - children.
The airline has, however, been quick to squash any lingering thoughts from couples wishing to join the 'mile high club'.
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Cuddle class: The new seating area is being pitched at couples and families with - admittedly very young - children
Here the seats are upright with fold-out section extended providing a flat area to rest on
Ed Sims, group general manager of the airline, said this was not something the airline encouraged. 'Although we have no objection to cuddling,' he added.
The airline's CEO, Rob Fyfe was also quick to shoot down any mile high club aspirations, adding: 'Just keep your clothes on please!'
The seating row can partially recline and has a retractable platform which can be raised to create a flat space across the footwell.
For a couple, the third seat comes half-price whereas for a family of four the idea is that one adult lies with their children while their partner has to make do with an ordinary seat.
The airline has also suggested children could be allowed to use the space as a place area.
The new seating is a welcome development for economy travellers who
have faced ever decreasing comfort levels on budget airlines in recent
years as business class seats have become ever more luxurious.
Flights with easyJet and Ryanair, for example, come at a cost to personal space. Standard easyJet seats have a pitch of just 29in, while Ryanair's are only slightly roomier, at 30in.
Air New Zealand will take delivery of the 777-300 planes from the end of this year which have been developed offering 22 sets of Sky Couches alongside the regular seats available in economy.
Pack 'em in: The crowded seating of a charter flight most air passengers are used to
'We spent a long time observing how people contort themselves at all different angles to get comfortable on flights and how parents struggle to find a way for their children to curl up and sleep,' said Mr Sims.
'Then we hit upon this idea which is perfect for a parent with two children or for couples who can choose to buy the third seat in the row at half price and lie back and relax together.'
Although prices for the seats have yet to be released, they are expected to cost more than a normal economy fare. At present a flight to Hong Kong starts at around £463 return, with flights to Las Vegas for £531 and Fiji at about £1,000.
The first of five 777-300s will be delivered to Air New Zealand this year and will begin flights between New Zealand and Los Angeles. They will then be flying to and from Heathrow from April 2011.
Mr Sims said: 'We saw that airlines spent a lot of time trying to invent new concepts for business and first class but the majority of passengers fly economy which has remained unchanged for years.
'We decided economy passengers deserved more respect and that we could make some significant changes to their flight experience.'
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