I give Air New Zealand a lot of credit for creativity. From the same airline who brought us a flight safety video featuring crew members wearing only body paint, we get “cuddle class”.
Basically they’ve outfitted three-seat rows in coach to form tiny little beds for two people to sleep on during long overnight flights. The armrests go up and a special padded footrest panel comes up and locks into place, widening the sleep surface just barely enough to fit two people (cuddling closely). They have to pay about half-price for the third seat.
Sounds pretty good to me. Of course, it’s not exactly sleeping in luxury (not that I expect it to be). The rows are still only 4½ feet wide, so you can’t lie all the way flat (unless you’re less than 4½ feet tall). Passengers say it’s kind of like sleeping on someone’s little couch at home.
Air New Zealand has toyed with all kinds of other creative seating ideas to make long flights more sleep-friendly. At their secret research warehouse in Auckland, they tested everything from staggered seats, to bunk beds, to seats stacked on top of each other. Testers came in and tried the various options, and the seat-couch was the most popular. So they went with it, installing it on several of their planes.
People seem to like it well enough. It might not be long before this is a common option on other airlines’ long haul flights. We may see a lot more in-flight cuddling in the future.