Stretching Out on High
“In what is being hailed as the most important development in air travel for decades,” Air New Zealand has taken delivery of the world’s first passenger plane with a redesigned interior, allowing economy class seats to be turned into beds. The idea of “cuddle class” is that two passengers travelling together should buy their seats at full price, then pay about half-price for a third seat in the same row. By retracting the armrests and raising footrests, the three seats convert into what the airline calls a Skycouch, on which the two passengers can stretch out during the flight. The 22 sets of convertible seats occupy the first 11 rows in the economy class cabin of the Boeing 777-3ER. The national carrier is now negotiating with up to 3 other airlines interested in licensing the design. Air New Zealand’s group general manager Ed Sims said economy class passengers, who made up the vast majority of flyers, had long been ignored by the world’s airlines, which focused on the lucrative business and first-class markets. “Chief executive Rob Fyfe said he wanted us to be the first airline to allow economy passengers to sleep, but he wanted to do it without giving an extra inch of leg room,” Sims said.