Air New Zealand has launched an innovative 'SkyCouch' design , which will allow couples to take some rest as well as give them enough room to cuddle.
The airline will take delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in Seattle, the first to be kitted out with the radical economy class seat design.
AdvertisementNicknamed "cuddle class" by some, the design converts three seats into a "couch" by retracting the armrests and raising the footrests.
Two adults can purchase a third seat at half-price, creating a space they can lie down in.
Air New Zealand group general manager Ed Sims said the majority of flyers - economy class passengers - had been ignored by most other airlines as they focus on the lucrative business and first-class markets.
"The idea began in 2006 when CEO 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," the Age quoted Sims as saying.
While the "cuddle class" nickname has caught on, Sims says the initial aim for the seat is families with young children.
The airline is not referring to the Skycouch as a bed, and Sims admits it will not replace the lie-flat bed experience for which business class travellers pay a premium.
"On a Sunday afternoon you might have two or three hours nap on sofa at home - this is meant to be that sort of experience," he said.
"It's not going to give you eight or nine hours unbroken sleep - if you want that then the choice is to trade up to business class," he stated.
he airline's CEO announced recently that the it is hopeful of selling the Skycouch design to other carriers, but Sims said it is likely other airlines will wait and see how the concept performs for Air New Zealand before making enquiries.
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