Relief for tall pax as Air New Zealand introduces Economy Stretch

October 16, 2019
Air New Zealand Economy Stretch
Economy Stretch will join Skycouch as an option in economy. Photo: Air New Zealand.

Tall people rejoice: Air New Zealand is joining the ranks of airlines offering an economy cabin product with extra legroom.

The airline said it would introduce extra legroom seats called Economy Stretch on its widebody fleet from late 2020, offering passengers a 35-inch seat pitch and additional perks such as premium headset and a plush pillow.

Although Economy Stretch will use a standard Air New Zealand economy seat,  it will offer four inches more legroom than the usual 31-inch seat pitch and welcome relief for long-suffering taller passengers.

It will also give AirNZ an advantage over recalcitrant Qantas, which has said it has no immediate plans to add extra legroom seats in its international economy cabins.

READ: Qantas boss says no immediate plans for extra legroom economy option

AirNZ joins a number of carriers offering the seats, including trans-Pacific competitors such as Virgin Australia and American Airlines.

The airline did not indicate how much it would charge for the new product but Virgin’s Economy X costs $A199 one way on Sydney-Los Angeles with American charging a similar fee.

The Kiwi carrier is currently reconfiguring its Boeing 777-200, 777-300 and 787-9 aircraft to fit a stretch zone at the front of the Economy cabin, with up to 42 of the seats.

It will join the airline’s innovative SkyCouch in offering economy passengers who can’t afford to upgrade to premium economy a further choice.

“We know one size doesn’t fit all and we want customers to have a fantastic experience, whatever the cabin,’’ chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said.

“Economy customers told us they want more space and comfort and we’re looking forward to giving customers a new option when traveling long haul.

“While our premium cabins will remain the first choice for those wanting all the luxuries, Economy Stretch is a step-up at a competitive price, and we’re confident it will appeal.”

Economy Stretch passengers will not get the wider seats or premium wine and food of premium economy, which also has a generous 41-inch seat pitch on the Kiwi carrier.

But they will get Air New Zealand’s widely recognized service with New Zealand wine and cuisine, gate-to-gate entertainment and free Wi-Fi on enabled aircraft.




  1. Around the turn of the century, AirNZ offered 34" pitch on their 747s -- one of a number of airlines at the time. It made for a comfortable trans-pacific journey. Since then just about every airline has reduced their economy seat pitch, and in addition, in the case of most 787s, seat width.Nowadays I avoid airlines that offer 31" seat pitch or less -- it's not all that comfortable even for a short domestic sector.Now that NZ are offering something a bit more spacious, they might even get me back as a customer. For long haul I would definitely consider paying the extra when it's offered -- depending on how much extra.