There’s no doubt the 787 Dreamliner has had a tough time since entering commercial service in 2010, though as the kinks get worked out there’s no doubt it’s a big winner for the airlines, thanks to the low operating costs.
So far only the 787-8 has entered commercial service (I just had my first flight on the 787 a couple of weeks ago). However, next year the stretched version, the 787-9, will enter service starting with their launch customer, Air New Zealand.
Air New Zealand has announced that they’ll first introduce the 787-9 on their route between Auckland and Perth as of October 15, 2014.
Air New Zealand’s 787-9 will feature a total of 302 seats, including 18 Business Premier seats, 21 Premium Economy seats, and 263 Economy Class seats, including 14 Skycouch rows. By the end of 2014 the 787-9 should be serving Shanghai and Tokyo Narita as well.
Based on the 787-9 seatmap that Air New Zealand published, it looks like Business Premier will feature herringbone seats in a 1-1-1 configuration. It looks like it’ll be the same product they have on the 777-300ER.
Their Premium Economy cabin is different than the Spaceseat they have on the 777-300ER (I assume because the aircraft isn’t quite as wide).
Meanwhile the aircraft also has Air New Zealand’s innovative Skycouch, which I still can’t see the value of unless you’re really short. The three seats turn into a 5’1″ surface, which just seems more trouble than its worth.
Economy class will be in a 3-3-3 configuration, as has become the norm on the 787. When ANA first took delivery of the 787 they just had eight seats per row in economy class, but since then nine has become the standard unfortunately.
I love Air New Zealand (and for that matter New Zealand is one of my favorite countries in the world), though they’re extremely stingy with releasing award space. Back in the day the key to snagging business class award seats on their routes between the US and New Zealand was to book 60 days out, when they seemed to release many unsold business class seats. Unfortunately since then they’ve tightened up space even more, to the point that I don’t remember the last time I saw a business class award seat out of their mainland North America gateways.
On the plus side they do release at least some award space on their routes out of Asia, though here’s to hoping the Dreamliner configuration doesn’t cause a further reduction in award space. Their 777-200s feature 26 business class seats, so the 787-9 does represent a reduction of eight business class seats.