Air New Zealand to launch new business class in September 2024

The new seats, and revolutionary economy bunk beds, will debut on flights to New York and Chicago.

By David Flynn, May 11 2023
Air New Zealand to launch new business class in September 2024

Air New Zealand’s radical reboot of its international business class will take wing in September 2024 on flights from Auckland to New York and Chicago.

That’s when the Kiwi carrier collects the keys to the first of eight factory-fresh Boeing 787s with new suites and seats from tip to tail.

Taking pride of place on the ultra-long range flights will be eight private Business Premier Luxe suites – four in the first row of each business class cabin – with a ‘buddy seat’ where a companion can sit and share a meal, a glass of wine or a game of cards, and dressed by upmarket touches including a Merino wool throw.

Air New Zealand's new Business Premier Luxe suite.
Air New Zealand's new Business Premier Luxe suite.

These will be accompanied by 42 new-look Business Premier seats with their own sliding privacy panels, a storage cabinet and vanity mirror, a spacious side shelf, wireless device charging and a massive 24” video screen with Bluetooth audio streaming to your own cordless headphones or earbuds.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier suite.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier suite.

Unlike the current 20-year old ‘sleeper shells’, with narrow confines and a steep rake that sees many passengers facing one another like commuters on a bus, the new Business Premier seats adopt a more conventional layout.

Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier cabin.
Air New Zealand's new Boeing 787 Business Premier cabin.

Seats on either side of the plane are angled slightly inwards, but still close enough to the window to enjoy the view; the paired middle seats face slightly outwards, towards the aisle, although a panel lets you share the experience with your partner in the adjacent middle seat. 

The updated Business Premier beds are slightly longer, and in sleep mode will be dressed with a memory foam mattress and feather pillow; the seat itself can also be put into a reclined position for the taxi, take-off and landing stages of the journey.

And there’ll be more business class seats on these new Dreamliners, which will be dedicated to and “optimised for ultra-long haul flying,” says Air New Zealand Captain and 787 Technical Pilot Phillip Kirk.

The elongated two-cabin business class zone will be followed by 52 new-design premium economy seats, significantly more than the 33-seat count on the airline’s most recent Dreamliners.

Air New Zealand's premium-heavy Boeing 787 layout.
Air New Zealand's premium-heavy Boeing 787 layout.

It’s all about reducing the number of seats – and skewing the mix towards higher-revenue premium passengers – to extend the aircraft’s reach, “because New York is definitely on the edge of the (current) aeroplane’s range,” Kirk told Executive Traveller during the airline’s inaugural nonstop flight from Auckland to New York.

Nestled behind the premium economy cabin and will be the innovative Skynest sleeping bunks, which delivers full-length lie-flat beds to economy passengers – albeit in four-hour shifts at an extra cost estimated to be “around NZ$400 to $600”, says Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty.

“North America is the perfect market for Skynest, as it has a premium segment that values comfort and sleep during long-haul travel.”

Air New Zealand's Economy Skynest bunk beds.
Air New Zealand's Economy Skynest bunk beds.

Each of the six Skynest pods will include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket (which will be changed between each Skynest booking shift) ear plugs, soft LED lighting light, USB power and a ventilation outlet.

In addition to the eight new Dreamliners, Air New Zealand will begin retrofitting its existing 14-strong 787 fleet with the new seats from late 2024.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 378

Looks good. Well overdue.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 95

The business class seats look amazing, am I the only one thinking the skynest is headed to be a disaster?


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 391

SkyNest will prove to be unviable and be replaced by either Premium Y or Economy soon there after. They won't get the yield from ticket sales, passengers will resent the 4 hour max limit leading to onboard shenanigans and the whole thing will be just too hard for everyone. SkyCouch is a better concept but if it made money other longhaul operators would have adopted it by now, and they have not. The real winner for both airline and passenger is Premium Y and this is where Air NZ should be focusing and not the risky gimmick. 

12 Aug 2022

Total posts 5

I wonder if you'll be able to book back to back sky-nest sessions. Will be very interested to see how this plays out, will it cannibalise their PE / J offerings?

19 Jan 2017

Total posts 2

AIr NZ have said that passengers will only be able to book one x 4 hr session per trip.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jan 2017

Total posts 26

I agree with MarkivJ and AT - it's gimmicky and it just won't work.  From the photograph, the "privacy" screen seems to extend just to the shoulders.  The concept reminds me of the sleeping arrangements on a submarine - it was called hot-bedding.  Not enough bunks for the whole crew, so when one got out, another got in - hot-bedding.  Yuk!

I am yet to see AIr NZ Skynest being accessed on the top bunk. Obviously going to be a ladder of some sort. Would be good to see a video of somebody climbing in and out. I don't think that it is going to be easy. Wonder if their experts have actually considered this yet ?

Do you really think Air New Zealand and all its designers, engineers etc would spend years developing the SkyNest bunks and NOT think about how passengers would get onto the top bunks? Really? They get installed on the new 787s and suddenly it's "Ooops, we forgot about how people will get up there?"

FWIW, there is a small set of steps built into the bottom of the 'divider' between each set of bunks, it's visible in the ET report at

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