Air New Zealand customers will soon be able to spend an extra $175 to sit in an economy seat with 39 per cent more legroom.
The new “economy stretch” option will be available on its 777-300s flying from Auckland to Los Angeles from 27 February.
The 42 seats are located in the front four rows and will also feature a “roomy 89-cm seat pitch”.
Air New Zealand chief customer officer Leanne Geraghty said the service would provide “luxury for the legs” and be available alongside its traditional economy and economy Skycouch offerings.
“The economy cabin welcomes the most diverse group of travellers,” said Geraghty. “The introduction of economy stretch means we are providing more choice for customers at an economy price point that will meet the needs of families, solo travellers, as well as those just looking for that little bit extra of extra comfort.”
Air New Zealand has been gradually reintroducing its 777s into service after storing three in Auckland during COVID-19 and four in the Victorville desert boneyard in California. It hopes later to introduce the extra legroom option on flights from Auckland to Houston.
Economy stretch is one of a number of eye-catching innovations in development for the airline. Next year, it will let economy passengers on its long-haul 787s reserve a bunk bed for four hours.
The airline said the world-first “Skynest pod” would be available on its eight new 787s that will arrive from 2024, while its current fleet would also be upgraded.
“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long-haul travel experience,” said the business’s chief executive, Greg Foran.
“We wanted to offer our Economy customers a lie-flat option, and that’s how Skynest was born. It’s going to be a real game-changer for the economy travel experience.”
Economy passengers would also be able to access “care stations” where they can stretch their legs and grab some food, alongside a new “Skycouch”. All of the cheapest seats will also feature a 50 per cent bigger TV screen to watch movies onboard.
“Research shows us the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night’s sleep, so everything we do on board is to help create a sense of calm — from the lighting and sleep ritual, including sleepy teas and balms, to the healthier food choices and breathable fabrics,” said Geraghty.
“Meditative onscreen content, Zentertainment, will also help customers unwind and get ready for rest.”