ANA, Japan’s largest airline has an economy produced called ‘COUCHii’ onboard its Airbus A380’s. In essence it’s the airlines attempt to diversify, and capitalise, on a niche but growing tread to offer a couch-style or a ‘poor-man’s lie flat’ experience in economy – for an additional fee.
If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it allows you to turn a block of economy seats into a lounging/sleeping area of sorts. The seats are equipped with a highly durable leg rest that can be extended 90-degrees to allow for the occupants to sit as if they were on a couch. The seats also come with special bedding so little kids can snuggle up with parents, a husband and wife can lie down next to each or a solo traveller can stretch out on the nine-hour flight to Hawaii
The Airlines Airbus A380’s consists of four proper cabins; on the upper deck there are 8 seats in first class, 56 in business and 73 in premium economy with 383 seats in economy on the main deck, with COUCHii in the rear.
While it may seem novel it is not new, the seating concept was (likely) licenced and the seats were designed by Air New Zealand who was the first to introduce the concept.
ANA COUCHii can be used as a couch seat by pulling out the leg rests or when not being used as a couch seat, it can be enjoyed as a regular seat. What you need to know is that while the A380 will offer 34” of pitch in economy, COUCHii seats however will only offer 32” due to the swing-up leg rest.
The couch experience is made up of three or four seats and can be used as a bed by raising the leg rests of the adjacent seats. The seat is advertised for both couples and families with young children. Individuals can make use of COUCHii but it is considerably costly.
There are a total of 60 COUCHii enabled seats of which can turn into 18 couches – 12 three-seater and 4 four-seater couches.
The seats are located at the back of the aircraft (between rows 71 to 76) which will make non-family travellers happy as it concentrates screaming babies in one area of the aircraft. However, it does make sense; as a family-focused product parents aren’t in a rush to get off the plane and they are situated closer to the multipurpose room.
What is the multipurpose room you might ask? Well, it is essentially a restroom without a toilet providing a nicer (and cleaner) space to manage babies or change your clothes. The multipurpose is all-around likely to be a Godsend for mums with babies.
Availability And Pricing
First off you must be on one of the airline’s 3 Airbus A380’s, the seat is not offered on any other aircraft. Coincidentally, the A380’s mainly serves Tokyo (NRT) to Honolulu (HNL) so it narrows down the chance of getting the seat or not.
Secondly, you must buy your ticket with a travel agent or direct with ANA, codeshare tickets are not able to book COUCHii– or more specifically tickets not beginning with 205 are excluded. You must also be in fare class Y, B, M, U, H, Q, V, W, S, L, K, or X. Unlike Lufthansa’s Sleeper’s Row you can in fact book and reserve 355 days prior to the departure. As a side note, you cannot book COUCHii on ANA’s Mexico site.
It is important to remember that once you have made a reservation with ANA for COUCHii you are locked in. you cannot change the reservation after the fact, this includes upgrade using miles or Upgrade Points, upgrade to Premium Economy using Premium Member services, or make bids using Bid My Price.
Pricing wise, seat prices are dependant on the number of passengers taking up the couch and the season – the matrix can be found on this ANA page. you just have to see if the cost is worth it for a 9-hour flight.
Is ANA COUCHii anything new?
As mentioned above It follows on from the success of Air New Zealand’s Sleeper Seats but sadly the product will only be seen by a very small number of people due to the route and aircraft the seats feature on. Premium leisure travel is an increasingly valuable yet demanding segment for airlines and interestingly the Airbus A380s serve almost entirely a Japanese market. Honolulu remains a highly popular leisure destination from Japan, as demonstrated by the fact that ANA thinks it can fill over five hundred seats on a regular basis. Being a couple of years out, it’s likely that ANA doesn’t see this product being a success on the international stage which is a shame.
The product is not exclusive to the two airlines either, the seats feature of Shuttle airlines like Thomas Cooks ‘Sleeper Seats’, budget carriers like Air France’s subsidiary Joon, major carriers like Lufthansa’s Sleeper’s Row have adopted the idea, and so too have smaller carriers like Air Astana’s ‘Economy Sleeper.
Taking the major players, Lufthansa and ANA have clearly taken a different approach to their respective couch services. Lufthansa’s proposition aims to monetize seats that would otherwise remain empty, in targeting individuals it has to be careful not to cannibalize into its premium economy offering. On the other hand, ANA is targeting couples and young families so there is a little cross over and capacity to cannibalise its premium offerings. What’s more, the proposition to lounge as a family clearly resonates given the likes of the multipurpose room in the back etc.