Air New Zealand Premium Economy
Most passengers agree that Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy is a great product overall, but it is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of what’s offered across the different aircraft in their fleet. Universally, Premium Economy passengers will enjoy the convenience of a dedicated check-in desk and an exclusive cabin on-board. As an added bonus, meals and beverage selection are the same as the airline’s Business Class offering and there’s no plastic cutlery or paper napkins here. This is maybe our favourite part: Premium Economy passengers travelling long-haul receive an Amenity Kit identical to that given out in Business Class. Currently it’s stocked with New Zealand made Antipodes skincare, socks, eyeshades, toothbrush kit, earplugs and a pen.
Boeing 777-300 Premium Economy
Routes: Auckland-Los Angeles and Los Angeles-London
These guys have the popular Spaceseat which creates the best space and privacy for passengers. The design of the Spaceseat means that the person sitting in front of you can’t recline into your personal space. The cabin on the 777-300 has the best configuration of the three aircraft options with a 1-2-1 layout so that the seats that run through the middle section of the cabin have been designed for couples, (they can be turned to face each other to share a meal) and the seats at the side of the cabin cater more for those who need some uninterrupted work time, or who prefer to keep to themselves during the flight.
As well as the meal service described above, if you get hungry at other times during your flight you can simply order up a snack direct from your personal entertainment screen, and a flight attendant will bring it to you.
In-flight entertainment is enjoyed on a 10.6” personal touch screen and if you need more, there’s always the USB and iPod connections to plug in to.
Sadly, with the Dreamliner 787 rolling out, the Spaceseat is being discontinued and will no longer be fitted in new aircraft. Air New Zealand will begin refitting these cabins in February next year and expect to have completed the process by November, so there’s not much time left if you wish to experience this product. One of the major complaints the airline received about the Spaceseat cabin was a lack of the expected leg room in a Premium Economy cabin and for this reason we don’t recommend booking the middle bulkhead seat where this is a particular problem.
Boeing 787 Premium Economy
Routes: Auckland-San Francisco and Auckland-Buenos Aires
For the Premium Economy seating on the 787, Air New Zealand discarded the Spaceseat design used on the 777-300 and went with the same basic model used by Cathay Pacific. All of the seats have footrests, not just the first row of the cabin as is so often the case with other airlines. The seat is a dark ink-coloured leather with generous armrests (5” wide), leg rest and foot support. Seat pitch is 41”, with 9” recline and 19.3” width. On the 787 the cabin is configured in a 2-3-2 layout.
As you’d expect, the menu has a Kiwi flavour and is accompanied by a wide selection of New Zealand wines.
In-flight entertainment choices number into the thousands of hours and includes latest release movies, TV box sets, computer games and a dedicated kids section, so you’ll never get bored. Also, your personal screen will operate gate-to-gate so no annoying interruptions to service during take-off and landing.
Boeing 777-200 Premium Economy
Routes: Auckland-Buenos Aires and Auckland-Houston
Perhaps the lesser of Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy offerings, there are several nice features here all the same. Seats are the same as those described for the Boeing 787 but the cabin configuration is 2-4-2. Maybe it looks a little crowded, but the four seats in the middle are perfect for families.
All seats are provided with leg rest and foot bar and they also have in-seat power if you need it (available in most seats). On boarding and settling in to your seat, you’ll also find complimentary bottled water in the storage net in front of you.
As with the other aircraft, you’ll enjoy the meal service, and this time you’ll have access to a self-service refreshment bar at the front of the cabin when the midnight munchies strike.
In-flight entertainment is again on a personal touch screen and stocked with plenty of options for you to choose from.
In a nutshell then, here’s what you get when you book Air New Zealand Premium Economy –
- More legroom
- A separate cabin
- Dedicated check-in counter and priority baggage handling
- Bigger in-flight entertainment screen (compared to Economy Class)
- A larger tray table that can actually be used as a workstation
- Better food, and arguably more attentive service
Compared to Business Class –
- No lie-flat seats in Premium Economy
- No dedicated bathroom in the Premium Cabin
- No access to the Business Class lounge
We’ve always presented Premium Economy to our clients as a step up from Economy, rather than a step-back from Business Class. In other words, if you are a regular Business Class traveller and are looking to save some money by booking Premium Economy with hopes of a similar experience, you’ll probably be disappointed. If however you’ve generally travelled in Economy Class and think the time is right to upgrade your experience considerably, then Premium Economy is for you.