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They’ve taken out the title of ‘Best Airline of Year’ for 2020 , gaining praise for their roomy premium economy and new biscotti coffee cups.

But the hack that many international flyers haven’t heard of is one that allows long-haul Air New Zealand passengers to lie flat in economy class – and I’m not talking about the times you luck-out and score an entire free row to yourself.

The airline has certain sections of the plane that are dedicated to what they call the ‘Skycouch’; a row of three seats with custom-fitted attachments that replace your legroom with bed space.

Two adults can lie on the flat seats in economy on Air New Zealand flights.

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The result is that you and another passenger can lie down across the length of the row if you choose to pay an additional fee for the third seat.

While the amount is variable depending on the demand for each particular flight, it’s advertised as costing ‘less than three separate seats’. For example, an adult and two kids could pay just $200 more to get the bed, while a single person may pay around $1,000 extra to get the whole row to themselves.

It doesn’t come with the privacy or fancy meals afforded to business class passengers, but for a fraction of the price, it’s a great alternative for parents travelling with young children.

The offering was initially targeted at couples, but after families started using it to make travelling with their little ones easier, the company introduced infant harnesses and belts so young children can lie flat throughout the entire middle section of flights. Looking for a holiday loan? 

Economy class usually consists of uncomfortable cramped seats that follow a standard row format. But that’s changing. Several airlines have introduced economy seats that can be converted to flat beds, and some have taken that even further.

Air New Zealand’s Skycouch allows for a row of three economy seats to be converted into a flat bed, all with the push of a button.

The arms on the seats retract, while the seat base extends and seat belts lengthen to give you space for reclining. Up to two people can recline together by lying horizontally against the wall. It’s been dubbed the “Cuddle Class,” and comes at the standard price for each seat, and the third shared seat for half price.

Mummy-blogger Adele Barbaro shared photos of her family using the Skycouch earlier this year, saying her husband and two young kids all managed to sleep on their 15-hour flight to Los Angeles.

On a particularly unpopular flight, it could even work out at a reasonable price for a single person to book all three seats and enjoy the bed for themselves. Either way, it’s a wonder more airlines haven’t followed suit and offered something similar.

In March this year, Thomas Cook Airlines launched a ‘Sleeper Seat’ mattress that passengers could fit across three seats for long-haul flights, but that carrier ceased trading in September.

Air New Zealand offers the Skycouch on all their international routes excluding Trans-Tasman and Pacific Island flights, so unfortunately you won’t get to try it when jetting across from Australia to NZ.

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