August 12, 2022

For a couple of years now we’ve known that Air New Zealand was working on developing a new business class product, and the airline has finally revealed the details of these cabins today. Air New Zealand is actually refreshing all of its cabins on the Boeing 787 (including introducing the innovative Skynest), but in this post I’ll be focusing specifically on business class.

Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier seats

Air New Zealand has formally unveiled its new Business Premier seats. Boeing 787s will feature either 42 or 22 of these seats, depending on the configuration (there are different configurations depending on demand in various markets).

Here are some of the basic features to be aware of:

  • Seats will be in a 1-2-1 configuration, and will be herringbone, meaning that all seats face toward the aisles, rather than away from them; they’ll be at a 24 degree angle to the aircraft fuselage
  • Seats will be 20.5″ wide, and will turn into 80.25″ flat beds
  • Seats will have 24″ personal televisions, USB-A, USB-C, and AC power outlets, and bluetooth audio
  • Business Premier seats won’t have doors, but they will have a shield that can be extended to provide some extra privacy
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier seats
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier seats
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier seats
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier seats

Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier Luxe seats

Air New Zealand isn’t just introducing a new Business Premier product, but the airline is also adding a new Business Premier Luxe seat. Think of it as a premium business class. Boeing 787s will feature either four or eight of these seats, depending on the configuration (since these are at bulkheads, it comes down to whether there’s one or two business class cabins).

These will feature more space, an ottoman, and a privacy door. The tray table will be larger, and it will be possible to dine with another passenger at these seats.

Essentially Air New Zealand is just creatively utilizing the space at the bulkhead. The other business class seats use some of the space to the side of the seat in front to maximize efficiency, but of course there’s no seat in front of the bulkhead row. So Air New Zealand is giving those passengers extra space, and is marketing it as a separate product.

Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier Luxe seats
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier Luxe seats
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier Luxe seats
Air New Zealand’s new Business Premier Luxe seats

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 will be installing these new cabins as of 2024, so we’ll have to be patient:

  • Air New Zealand Boeing 787s delivered as of 2024 will feature these new cabins
  • Air New Zealand will retrofit existing Boeing 787s between 2024 and 2026
  • Air New Zealand won’t install these new cabins on Boeing 777s

So unfortunately this isn’t one of those cases where a cabin is announced and enters service within weeks. Rather we’ll have to be patient, and it’ll be a couple of years before we see any planes with these.

For context, Air New Zealand has a fleet of 14 Boeing 787s, with a further eight of these jets on order. I would imagine that Air New Zealand will prioritize these cabins for its longest flights, to Chicago and New York.

All Air New Zealand Boeing 787s will get these new cabins

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.

I’ve gotta be honest, at first glance I’m really confused by the new Business Premier product, and am wondering what I’m missing:

  • Reverse herringbone seats are considered more desirable than herringbone seats, given that they feature more privacy and have views out the window, so I have to wonder why Air New Zealand would choose to maintain a herringbone configuration
  • It’s odd to see Air New Zealand not introducing doors on a new business class product introduced now, when that’s the direction the industry is headed
  • There are several “generic” seats out there that on the surface seem superior to this, like the Adient Ascent seat (which Qatar Airways’ new Boeing 787-9s have)

In fairness to Air New Zealand, the seat does look reasonably spacious in terms of the size of the footwell and the space around the seat, so that’s good. It’s also nice to see Air New Zealand drastically increase premium seat capacity. Previously Air New Zealand’s planes had up to 27 business class seats, while now we’ll see some 787s with up to 50 business class seats, between Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe.

Business Premier Luxe looks great, and it looks like a significant step up over your average business class product, and also like a significant improvement over Business Premier. The big question is what pricing will be like.

Bottom line

Air New Zealand has revealed the details of its new business class product, which represents a significant improvement over what’s currently being offered. The airline is introducing a new Business Premier, which I’d say looks reasonably good, but not cutting edge. Meanwhile Business Premier Luxe is the biggest change, as these seats will have doors and ottomans.

Equally interesting is the extent to which Air New Zealand is increasing premium capacity, as there will be a lot more business class seats than before. Unfortunately we’ll have to be patient, as it’ll be 2024 before the first aircraft features these seats, and it’ll only be in 2026 when all 787s have these cabins. At least that’s a pretty quick rollout once it gets underway.

What do you make of Air New Zealand’s new business class?

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