Airline introduces economy class beds

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The Independent Travel

Air New Zealand is to become the first airline in the world to offer flat "beds" in economy cabins.

The airline's new Boeing 777-300 ER will feature 22 'Skycouches,' specially designed rows of three seats that fold out to create a lie-flat space all the way to the seat-back in front. The 'Skycouches' will be formed out of three economy seats abreast for the first 11 rows of seating, and Air New Zealand will sell the empty third seat at approximately half price to two travelers who wish to use the service.

"For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone," announced Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe on Tuesday. "The dream is now a reality, one that you can even share with a travelling companion - just keep your clothes on thanks!"

The airline's Premium Economy Cabin will also feature "Spaceseats," set two abreast and designed so that the center aisle seats can angle together to allow couples to dine at a shared table or snuggle up. The window-facing seats angle outwards to provide privacy for passengers traveling alone. Following another current trend in airline interiors, the seats feature hard back shells so passengers cannot recline into the space of the person behind; the seat recline is created by a base that slides forward and angles up.

The first routes to offer travellers the new cabins will be between Auckland and Los Angeles from December 2010 and Auckland and London from April 2011. All Asian, North American and UK services will feature the seats by around 2012.