Airline with best economy, first class revealed in Airline Excellence Awards

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Air New Zealand has retained its title as having the best economy class cabin in the world, while Singapore Airlines has been crowned the best First Class for 2024 in the Airlineratings.com awards.

It’s the eighth time in the last decade Air New Zealand has been recognised in the annual Airline Excellence Awards, this year taking out the award for Best Economy Class for its innovation of the Skycouch and the Skynest beds to be rolled out next year.

Air NZ uniform over the years

The Airline Excellence Awards is judged by editors with more than 200 years of combined aviation experience — it recognises the gold standard in the airline industry with more than 350 airlines considered against a strict criterion spanning passenger comfort, innovation, value and safety.

The Auckland-based airline took out the prestigious title with its Economy Skynest launching on ultra-long-haul flights, starting with the Auckland – New York route.

The 17-hour service is ranked among the longest flights in the world.

“We’re very proud to win Best Economy Cabin for 2024, it’s always an incredible honour to be recognised for our innovation and offering onboard,” Air New Zealand chief customer and sales officer, Leanne Geraghty, told news.com.au.

“There’s a proud history of Kiwis being known for their ingenuity and innovation, and we are no different.

“We reimagined the economy cabin with the Skycouch introduced in 2011, and when our Skynest product is onboard next year, it will be the world’s first fully lie flat option for economy customers.

“We’re always looking for ways to make the experience for customers onboard better and will continue to push boundaries and provide our warm Kiwi hospitality no matter where you’re seated.”

The airline unveiled the Skynest sleeping pods in June 2022 and said it comes after feedback from customers over the past five years highlighting the importance for a good night’s sleep, more comfort and privacy.

How much does it cost?

Passengers will be able to pre-book a session, in four-hour blocks, for an extra $NZ400 to $NZ600 — which is roughly $365 to $550 Aussie dollars.

“We’re still in the process of firming up all things pricing as there are a number of factors involved but we anticipate it will be between $400 – $600 NZD per four hour session,” Ms Geraghty told news.com.au last year.

There will be 30 minutes between each session to allow cabin crew to change bedding and just before your session is up, lights will gently come on with cabin crew “politely waking up” any passengers who sleep through this.

Each pod will come with a separate seatbelt to ensure passengers can fasten them and stay in the pod should the seat belt sign come on during turbulence.

Airline reveals how they make their in flight meals

It will also include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, a separate reading light, personal device USB outlet, ventilation outlet, and lighting designed for rest.

SkyNest has already nabbed multiple awards – one of the latest being a finalist in the Crystal Cabin Awards.

It was due to launch on aircraft in September this year, but the delayed delivery of the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners means it won’t be onboard until the new aircraft arrive in 2025.

“While we know this is disappointing for our customers, our retrofit programme for our existing Boeing 787 fleet is still on schedule and we’re excited to introduce our new cabin experience to customers later this year,” Ms Geraghty told news.com.au.

Singapore Airlines wins Best First Class cabin

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has once again won ‘Best First Class’ in the AirlineRatings.com 2024 Airline Excellence Awards.

The carrier has a longstanding reputation for pushing the boundaries of cabin innovation with AirlineRatings editors saying what truly sets it apart is its “exceptional First Class experience” with the introduction of the “Skyroom” Suites on the A380.

Louis Arul, regional vice president south west pacific, for Singapore Airlines, said they are “delighted” by the win.

“Since refreshing our Suites in 2017, customer feedback on our innovative amenities, personalised service and luxurious spaces has been hugely positive, and we are proud to once again be recognised as best in class,” Mr Arul told news.com.au.

The airline safety and product rating website described the Skyroom as “spectacular”

“Each suite covers between 3.23 and four square meters of floor space with two-piece sliding doors operated manually, as opposed to electrically with other carriers, a source for prolonged malfunctions.”

“The main feature is a separate fold-out flat-bed measuring 76” by 27” (1.93m x 0.68m) complete with mattress bedding, duvet, and pillows. The bedhead has a gas spring to keep the head up to watch a movie while lying down.”

Last year, the airline took out the World’s Best Airline in the 2023 Skytrax World Airline.

The fifth time it won the prestigious accolade.

It took the top spot in four categories including Best First Class Airline, Best First Class Comfort Amenities, and Best Airline in Asia.