As part of a recent Air New Zealand flight with the family to Sydney we all enjoyed the comfort of Air NZ’s innovative premium economy Spaceseat thanks to an Airpoints Oneup upgrade.
This was one of the best value uses for my hard-earned Airpoints Dollars, and I was keen to enjoy the Spaceseat given that Air NZ are set to dump it for business reasons – despite it’s award winning nature and being a part of the fleet since 2011.
Given the excellent experience and despite the seats potential demise, this is a brief overview of what to expect. We’d encourage you to grab the chance if you get one to try it out for yourself or farewell it one last time before it’s gone for good.
Aircraft & Schedule
Between New Zealand & Australia
Flights across the Tasman are generally the cheapest and easiest way to access the Spaceseat, however Air NZ operate a large confusing mix of aircraft across the Tasman, mostly utilising single aisle economy only Airbus A320’s or their aging 2 class Boeing 767-300’s.
Luckily Air NZ do maximise the use of their larger long distance fleet so some Auckland to Sydney flights offer wide-body aircraft fitted with Premium Economy each day to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The trick to getting the Spaceseat is to keep an eye out for the spaceseat label in the online booking process, and hope they don’t have a last minute aircraft swap.
Air NZ’s alternative Premium Economy is a commonly used Zodiac model which is still nice but much more common, while the Space-seat is only fitted to their Boeing 777-300ER’s.
This all means there is usually 1 morning Air NZ 777-300ER flight fitted with the Spaceseat each day to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Between New Zealand and the USA
The Boeing 777-300ER are primarily utilised by Air NZ for their 2 daily Auckland to Los Angeles and 1 daily San Francisco services which all arrive back in Auckland early morning, and don’t depart again until mid-evening.
The Flight – NZ103 Auckland to Sydney
While our original booking was ‘Seat Only’ we knew that the flight was scheduled to be serviced by a 777-300ER, so we decided to make an Airpoints Oneup upgrade bid offer to enjoy the Spaceseat during the flight over.
This was accepted about a week out from the flight departure. I consider an upgrade-me bid to be one of the best methods for maximising value from Airpoints Dollars redemptions.
Premium check-in was fast and easy, providing us all with plenty of time to relax pre-flight in the Auckland Air New Zealand lounge, sadly not an inclusion with the Spaceseat ticket but thanks to my Virgin Australia Platinum status.
The Air New Zealand 777-300ER currently has 44 Spaceseats in a 2-2-2 layout. Both pairs on either side of the plane are angled toward the windows, while the centre pairing are angled away from each other with a centre table enabling both passengers to dine together.
Noise cancelling headphones and a bottle of Waiwera mineral water are waiting at each seat when you board.
Having the earphone jack and remote for the entertainment system built into the side of the seat makes it much more convenient than having cables dangling in front of you, particularly while eating.
The Spaceseat design is the same beige white leather found throughout the business cabin and incorporates a hard shell back, similar to that often found with most airlines business class. This allows the seat to slide forward in recline (although only to angle-flat) without intruding on the space of the person sitting behind.
The sliding mechanism is manually operated rather than powered like most business seating arrangements which does make it a little difficult to operate, something that is addressed as the cabin crew make their way around everyone to check if they need any assistance.
Being seated by the window allowed me to enjoy the beautiful sunny day that was on display during our flight.
Given such a stunning day I did appreciate how the entertainment screen was designed to swivel out from the back of the seat in front and angle to where it suits you best, great for deflecting the sun’s glare on a morning flight.
Air NZ Premium Economy Service between New Zealand and Australia
Being a morning flight there was a light continental cereal and fruit breakfast option available for those that prefer or don’t do a heavy cooked breakfasts.
The two hot breakfast options, cheese omelette or Tuna fishcakes, were a reduced selection of what is offered in Business Premier, so while the options are limited the quality is just as good.
While I had already chosen to eat in the Air NZ lounge I decided to try out the Tuna fishcakes which sounded superb, and didn’t disappoint, the meal was accompanied by a fresh croissant and a proper Kiwi mug of coffee (no teacups here).
The service from the crew was excellent (as always with Air NZ), with the added attention in the premium economy section allowing me to enjoy a couple of glasses of sparkling wine during the flight.
Summing Up – Air New Zealand 777-300ER Spaceseat
The Premium Economy Spaceseat has been another great innovative development from Air NZ, but it’s a shame that it appears that the economics of the seat just don’t stack up for the airline.
You should grab the chance – if it makes sense for your travel plans – to try it out before it goes. There’s no confirmed date yet, and there is normally one option each day to the three main east coast Australian cities when departing Auckland.
When the Spaceseat is combined with the premium check-in, extra luggage allowance and Air New Zealand’s excellent cabin service, the low $400’s starting cost for a ticket can be good value in its own right.
The best option for those looking to leverage the best value from both the experience and their Airpoints Dollars is to try for a Oneup upgrade.
With Trans-Tasman Seat Only sale fares often starting from $160 one way, and a Oneup upgrade bid to premium economy starting as low as $100, it’s possible to end up flying across the ditch in Air NZ’s Spaceseat for only $260, which would be a steal.
All in all I believe it will be a sad day when Air NZ does away with the innovative seat that they have received so many accolades for.
How about you – have you flown Air NZ’s Premium Economy Spaceseat, and what did you think?
Extra images courtesy of Air New Zealand