Air New Zealand is continuing to differentiate its economy class product on its long haul wide body services. Air New Zealand offers standard economy and economy skycouch down the back. Now it is adding a third zone, economy stretch. Then there’s premium economy and business cabins up the front. So that’ll be five distinct seat products on Air New Zealand’s fleet of Boeing 777s and 787s.
Too much? Maybe. Although Air New Zealand clearly doesn’t think so. Economy stretch will be rolled out across 2020 and available on all of the airline’s long haul wide body fleet by the end of 2020.
Air New Zealand says:
“We know one size doesn’t fit all and we want customers to have a fantastic experience, whatever the cabin. Economy customers told us they want more space and comfort and we’re looking forward to giving customers a new option when travelling long haul.
“While our premium cabins will remain the first choice for those wanting all the luxuries, Economy Stretch is a step-up at a competitive price, and we’re confident it will appeal.”
So what’s the diff between Standard Economy and Economy Stretch?
Economy stretch will be located at the front of the main economy cabin. Seats will have 35” of legroom (compared with 31” in standard economy). The seats will be the regular economy seats with the addition of sculptured upholstery and a flexible headrest. There will be special pillows (maybe they’ll score one of Air New Zealand’s NASA pillows) and noise cancelling headphones.
Plus Air New Zealand is talking up its long haul economy food and beverage service, WiFi enabled aircraft and gate to gate entertainment.
In a nutshell, it’s the standard economy product with extra legroom. Air New Zealand is confident it will work, saying there is demand for this level of customisation of their economy class product. They also expect economy stretch to be profitable, saying lots of customers are happy to pay more for extra legroom. This will be important as the airline looks to arrest last year’s profit slump.
The take out.
Between standard economy, economy skycouch, and economy stretch, Air New Zealand will have one interesting economy cabin. United Airlines has a similar approach in their long haul economy aircraft. United Airlines and Air New Zealand are tight. That could be where the idea came from.
Economy stretch offers passengers willing to pay a premium more choice. That’s a good thing. It may also have the potential to dilute the Air New Zealand standard economy product which presently isn’t too bad.
Although if I was stuck in long haul economy on Air New Zealand and had a few spare shekels but not enough for a business class fare, I’d probably opt for the existing Skycouch economy product over the new Economy Stretch.
It’s going to be interesting to watch how the take up of the new product goes.
Categories: Air New Zealand