The most fortunate of the 302 passengers in Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will find themselves in the ‘Business Premier’ business class cabin.
The 18 business class seats are identical to those on the airline's flagship Boeing 777-300 jets.
You get comfortable wide seats which fold out into a lie-flat bed which the crew dress with a 'memory foam' mattress, duvet and two full size pillows.
The Business Premier seats are arranged in an angled 1-1-1 layout so that every passenger has direct aisle access.
The sole difference between Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787 and Boeing 777 business class seating is the ‘geometry’ of the layout.
In the Boeing 787-9’s business class cabin the seats are angled at 49 degrees rather than the 40 degrees of the Boeing 777. This means the pitch is slightly reduced, although not enough to be noticeable.
(As it happens, the Business Premier seats on the upper deck of Air New Zealand’s Boeing 747 jumbo jets have the exact same angle and pitch as the Boeing 787-9.)
The seats also mark the debut of Air New Zealand’s new inflight entertainment system with a vastly improved touchscreen interface, new channels and a cleaner ‘app-centric’ design.
Something that hasn’t changed, perhaps to the surprise of many regular Business Premier travellers, is the size of those video screens remains at 11 inches.
Carrie Hurihanganui, Air New Zealand’s General Manager for Customer Experience, admitted that a larger screen could be fitted into the seat but the relatively short distance between the screen to the passenger makes 11 inches large enough.
“With the arm that brings the screen out, it’s a close enough proximity that 11 inches is quite a nice fit” she told Australian Business Traveller.
“There are a number of screens (in other airlines’ business class) that much much larger but in those seats there is more distance between you and the screen.”
Our pick of the best seats would be those on the left of the plane (1A through to 6A), as they face the rear wall of the middle seats.
This means you won't be end up looking at the screens of those sitting across the aisle from you – something which can be annoying of a night if the cabin is dark but those screens remain switched on.
The middle seats (1J through 6J) and right-side window seats (1K through 6K) are all angled towards one another.
Note that the pilot's rest area of the Boeing 787-9 is located in the ceiling and extends to the first three rows of the business class cabin.
As a result, passengers in seats 1J, 2J and 3J don't get their own overhead luggage space – as you can see from the photo below, there are no latches to open these overhead bins.
Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 will begin flying between Auckland and Sydney on Saturday August 9, ahead of its official debut on the Auckland-Perth route in October, with Shanghai and Tokyo to follow by the end of this year (once the airline takes delivery of two more Dreamliners in September and October).
Australian Business Traveller travelled on the Boeing 787-9 delivery flight from Seattle to Auckland as a guest of Air New Zealand and Boeing.
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