Amidst a heated conflict between travelers who want family-friendly zones on airplanes, and those willing to pay more for childfree cabins, Air New Zealand’s Economy SkyCouch seat is becoming a fast favorite for both sides of the debate.
The flexible seating option, which allows passengers to purchase three adjacent seats and transform them into a wide, flat sofa, has been particularly successful with families.
With a footrest that pulls out from beneath the three seats and armrests that virtually disappear, Air New Zealand has sold the Skycouch as an “ideal solution” for “a parent with two restless kids,” or the perfect play space for young children.
Other airlines are taking notice—China Airlines recently became the first non-competing carrier to purchase the rights to the Skycouch, which will appear on a new fleet of 777-300ER planes in September 2014.
It’s a surprising move, when only six months earlier, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, and AirAsia X banned children from certain rows or sections on many of their flights.
A representative from Air New Zealand confirmed that there has been international interest in the Economy Skycouch, and new negotiations with other airlines are already underway. At the same time, the Auckland-based carrier is preparing to launch their new fleet of Dreamliners, each outfitted with 14 SkyCouch rows.
Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure