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Jo & Marilyn
New Zealand
by The Travel Group
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Air New Zealand to offer "Cuddle Class"

(Oct. 15) -- Economy air travel need no longer be referred to as "cattle class," and passengers don't have to squeeze into tight seats.

Beginning next year, money-conscious long-haul travelers can take "cuddle class" and book a row of seats that convert into a couch or bed.

Planned by Air New Zealand for trans-Pacific flights, the "Skycouch" is a row of three regular seats redesigned to create a space for children to play or a flat surface for adults to relax and sleep.

The upgraded seating configuration, to be fitted in the carrier's new fleet of Boeing 777-300 aircraft, will cost the price of two standard economy seats plus half-price for the third seat in the row.

They will be big enough to accommodate a couple or a family with a small child.

"For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone," Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe said.

Air New Zealand, which is 75 percent owned by the South Pacific country's government, will formally debut the aircraft in April but is scheduling an inaugural flight for December.

Proposed routes include long-haul flights between Los Angeles and Auckland and London and Auckland.

While the cuddle-class seat configuration may present overamorous passengers with an opportunity to join the fabled Mile-High Club, the airline is urging restraint.

"Just keep your clothes on, thanks," Fyfe said.


Cuddle class arrives after an incident last month highlighted the other side of the air travel experience.

In September, some passengers on Tatarstan Airlines were forced to stand for a five-hour flight from Turkey to Russia. A last-minute aircraft switch saw a Boeing 737 with 148 seats replaced with another plane with seats for only 142 passengers.

Six passengers were offered the choice of flying with no seat or waiting seven hours for another flight.

They took the flight.

Meanwhile, discount European airline Ryanair is seeking a green light from the Irish Aviation Authority for "standing-room only" flights.

"If they approve it, we'll be doing it," a Ryanair spokesman said.

While some airlines are considering offering standing-room only flights if they can get away with it (grrrrr), Air New Zealand is taking the opposite tack and serving up what every budget traveler longs for: Room to sleep.


“Cuddle class” will offer tired families and couples a chance to spread out with three seats in a row costing only ....