The Future of Air Travel
Air New Zealand

“The ability to relax and recline flat in economy is something that every airline in the world has talked about, but never delivered,” Ed Sims from Air New Zealand says.

Air New Zealand has delivered Skycouch; a row of three seats that converts to a lie-flat platform, allowing two adults to lie together like they would on a couch at home. The ticket price for buying all three seats is the equal to approximately 2.5 normal fares.

“For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone. The dream is now a reality, one that you can even share with a traveling companion - just keep your clothes on,” says Rob Fyfe, chief executive.

The new premium economy seats, according to Designworks’ Creative Director Jef Wong, were designed around accommodating two types of passengers, “People who want to travel together, or people who want to travel with privacy."

Designworks was involved in the strategy and ideation of the new long-haul cabin experience, facilitating the collaborating amongst several partners, including global research and innovation consultancy IDEO, on the development of the new cabins. The design process included brainstorming, customer behavioural research, workshops, full-scale cabin mock-ups and running mock ‘flights’ to test the various concepts.

The result was one design aesthetic to form the entire experience. This customer centric design included all aspects of the in-flight experience; right down to crockery designs that limit bumping your neighbour while you’re eating.

The entire food and beverage service was re-invented including the idea of allowing travellers to order snacks what they want through the touch screen in-flight entertainment system.

The Skycouch has received huge international attention; with one reporter saying it transforms “cattle class into cuddle class”, and a UK-based writer asking the question “…is this the future of air travel?"

The new cabin experience played a significant part in Air New Zealand recently picking up Air Transport World magazine’s Airline of the Year award for 2010.