I’m always interested in trying new things when travelling, especially if it’s potentially finding a bargain for comfort or luxury travel.
So when Ange mentioned trying the Air NZ Skycouch on our trip from Auckland to San Francisco, I was definitely keen to find out more.
What is the Air NZ Skycouch?
The Skycouch is basically a row of three seats in economy class which have been slightly modified to allow the foot rests to pop up horizontally in line with the seat. You do this with the touch of a button on the armrest to make a lie flat sleeping surface.
They give you a thin mattress to even out the gaps between the seats and the arm rests fold up nicely to allow a continuous surface.
They also give you an additional safety seatbelt which allows a flexible arranging of passengers in various lying/sitting positions.
So how does the cost stack up versus the alternatives? To give context, an economy class seat one way on Air New Zealand currently costs $699 (search on AirNZ website on the 7th May 2018, for flight one way AKL-SFO for the 29th October NZ$).
To get a single Air NZ Premium Economy seat on the same flight costs $2,183 and Business Class would cost $4,283.
When we flew we managed to get a special and so got our two tickets for $1,143 and the SkyCouch extra seat for $649 for a total Skycouch cost of $1,792.
I would imagine the standard fare for a SkyCouch row if there was no sale on would be about $2,097 (3x$699).
So effectively your three seats for two people are setting you back a little less than one Premium Economy seat or half a Business Class seat.
So is it any good? Like most things it depends. But with the Air NZ Skycouch it depends purely on how tall you are, and how bendy you are.
I’m tall (6’4″/193cm) and obviously was never going to fit on the SkyCouch in full extension – some form of body folding would be required.
I assumed that I would be able to lean against the bulkhead and just have my legs going across the seat, having Ange using me as a pillow.
That didn’t work because the bulkhead is not uniformly curved and padded and nice to lean against. Its got windows in it.
I tried to get comfortable with a lower head position, effectively only having my neck and head on the bulkhead, but all that did was make my body like a torque wrench attempting to twist my head off my neck.
Finally I jammed my head into the corner of the seat where it joined the bulkhead – not comfortable, but at least some support. I thought that if I concertinaed my legs then Ange could kind of fit around them, but all that happened was I ended up taking way too much of the space and leaving Ange with no room to relax.
We did try every combination of positioning, but even with our combined tetris abilities, we couldn’t make it work.
In the end I squashed myself into two of the seats with my knees up in the air and Ange sat on the third seat in normal configuration and powered through the flight watching movies and reading her kindle. I got some sleep, but I’m not sure how much.
I owe Ange one for that I think!
A travel agent friend of mine had an important pointer as well:
One thing to also note, the seats in front of you still recline. Never lie curled up with your head near the seats in front, if they recline you get quite a headache. Learned that one from experience.
With Skycouch you get standard Economy food, you board with the Economy passengers, you don’t get any lounge access. No amenity kit either.
Is the Air NZ Skycouch worth it? No – not for me. If you’re travelling with a tall person or as a tall person, forget it. If you’re travelling as a couple and are both “normal” sized, then… maybe? If either of you are tall or not whippet thin, then you’ll probably find it difficult to get any sleep. If you don’t want sleep and just want more leg room space or to spread out a bit more, it’s perfect!