Which Airlines Offer Sleeper Seats?

Mar 31, 2019

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Airlines are doing everything in their power to cram as many passengers into their cabins. Though in recent years, we’ve seen the debut of some of the most luxurious business and first class cabins in the sky, flying in economy class has only gotten worse. However, airlines recognize that passengers still seek an upgraded travel experience.

Airlines also recognize that with the demand for upgraded travel experiences comes new opportunities to earn revenue. One recent passenger experience innovation debuted in 2010 with Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch, a slightly modified coach seat that allowed for passengers to create a couch out of an entire row of economy class seats.

Eight years later and the sky couch, or sleeper seat, has expanded from one airline to three airlines. Here are the three airlines that offer sleeper seats in economy class, and how travelers can book these coveted seats.

Air New Zealand offers SkyCouch flat bed seating in economy on flights operated by the Boeing 777-300er and 787 Dreamliner. Image by Air New Zealand.
(Image by Air New Zealand)

What Is a Sleeper Seat?

Sleeper seats have a long history in the airline industry. The first sleeper seats can be traced back to actual sleeping berths, essentially bunk-beds found on some of the first airliners. Eventually, sleeper seats took on a more modern appearance as the jet-age ushered in smaller passenger cabins. In the 1970s, 80s and even early 90s, sleeper seats could still be found on some wide-body aircraft. They consisted of a standard coach seat with a leg rest and added recline. However, the sleeper seat in a coach cabin eventually faded away in the mid-90s and early 2000s as airlines sought to maximize revenue and install more complex business and first class cabins.

Vintage illustration of a mother and daughter asleep in their reclining seats on an overnight flight, while the captain makes sure they are comfortable (screen print), 1956. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)
(Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

In 2010, with the arrival of Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 777-300, the sleeper seat was re-introduced to coach cabins. Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch looked a lot like a standard row of economy class seats. However, if a passenger wanted to purchase the entire row, the crew could transfer a standard row of economy class seats into a couch by locking three seat extensions into place. These seat extensions run parallel to the existing seat cushion, allowing passengers to spread out across the entire row. The Sky Couch was sold as a family-friendly product that allowed parents to lie flat in flight alongside their children. Featuring an extended seatbelt, safety wasn’t compromised when the row of seats was placed into the Sky Couch position.

Since 2010, airlines have been slow to adopt the passenger-friendly innovation. China Airlines installed and then later ditched its sleeper seats, called Family Couch. The airline used the same product on board its 777-300ER that can be found on Air New Zealand today. China Airlines has since removed the product from all aircraft. The airline wasn’t impressed by the performance of the product and decided to gut its sleeper seats in mid-2018.

In recent years, two airlines have added the new sleeper seats on newer wide-body aircraft. Each airline’s sleeper seats are a little different than the others and feature each airline’s branding of the product. Here are the airlines that currently offer sleeper seats.

Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch

The original sleeper seat, Air New Zealand has embraced the Sky Couch on its entire fleet of wide-body aircraft. Thanks to its remote geographical location, Air New Zealand’s operations are long-haul heavy. From its main hub in Auckland, Air New Zealand serves destinations that include Chicago, Buenos Aires, Houston, Tokyo and Vancouver. Each of those destinations takes more than 10 hours to reach from Auckland, which means passengers will do anything in their power to maximize their comfort. This is one reason why Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch works so well for the airline.

Read TPG’s full review of Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch.

Air New Zealand Sky Couch (Photo by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy)

Air New Zealand Aircraft Equipped with The Sky Couch

Aircraft Rows Seats
Boeing 777-200ER 36-44 ABC and HJK
Boeing 777-300 37-46 ABC and HJK
Boeing 787-9 V1 36-41 and 42-43 ABC and HJK (36-41), ABC (42-43)
Boeing 787-9 V2 36, 37-40, and 41-44 HJK (36), ABC and HJK (37-40), ABC (41-44)

How To Book Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch

Air New Zealand does a fantastic job of both advertising their Sky Couch and making it easy to select. When you’re ready to book your flight, simply visit Air New Zealand’s website and enter all applicable information to display relevant flights. Select your desired flight in the economy class cabin. Flights featuring Sky Couch service will be denoted with the ‘Sky Couch’ logo near the bottom of the fare box. Click through to the seat assignment, providing relevant information and selecting any extras you might wish to add.

(Image via Air New Zealand official website)
(Image via Air New Zealand official website)

Once you’ve arrived at seat selection, use the chart above to determine which seats will feature the Sky Couch. All seats equipped with the Sky Couch will display the Sky Couch logo and look quite different than other seats found on the seat map. Click any available Sky Couch and a box should appear on the screen. There you will find the price to upgrade to the Sky Couch.

Air New Zealand's Sky Couch on the Boeing 777-300 (Image via Air New Zealand official website)
Air New Zealand’s Sky Couch on the Boeing 777-300 (Image via Air New Zealand official website)

The price to reserve a Sky Couch will depend on the number of passengers traveling and the route. In our search a Sky Couch appears to start around $899 for one passenger or $449 for two passengers. If you’re traveling with three passengers, when you select a Sky Couch, all passengers on the reservation should be assigned to the same row. Finally, continue on to payment.

Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sleeper Seat

Thomas Cook Airlines is the latest airline to offer a sleeper seat. The UK-based lesuire carrier has branded their sleeper seat as simply “Sleeper Seat.” While probably the most uninspired name of the three airlines offering a sleeper seat on board, it’s actually the most innovative, or at least, that’s what the first renderings of the product show.

Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sleeper Seat will be available later this year on most long-haul flights. All of Thomas Cook Airlines long-haul flights are operated with an Airbus A330-200, which makes identifying which aircraft feature the product quite easy. Additionally, when booking a flight, the airline’s Sleeper Seat logo is displayed above the seat selection box, allowing travelers to easily determine whether or not their flight will feature the product.

Thomas Cook Airlines Aircraft With Sleeper Seats

Aircraft Rows Seats
Airbus A330-200 39-42 DFG

How To Book Thomas Cook Airlines Sleeper Seats

Thomas Cook Airlines also features a rather intuitive booking and seat selection process. Proceed to Thomas Cook Airlines’ official website and provide all necessary information to display relevant flights. Prior to selecting seats, make sure to confirm that your flight is operated with one of the airline’s Airbus A330s. Not every flight operated with the Airbus A330 will feature the Sleeper Seat product.

Once you’ve clicked through to the option to select seats, ensure that the “Sleeper Seat” icon is displayed above the seat selection box. Once you’ve confirmed that your flight features the product, continue to seat selection. Use the chart to determine which seats feature the Sleeper Seat product. Scroll down on the seat map to the back of the aircraft and select your seats. The price to upgrade to a Sleeper Seat will be displayed prior to seat selection and then again once you’ve selected your seat.

Thomas Cook Airlines' Sleeper Seat (Image via Thomas Cook Airlines official website)
Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sleeper Seat (Image via Thomas Cook Airlines official website)

Unfortunately, unlike the other two airlines featuring a sleeper seat product, Thomas Cook Airlines only allows one passenger at a time to sit in a row featuring the Sleeper Seat product. This means that if you’re traveling with a spouse, friends or other family members, they will also have to select a Sleeper Seat or select another seat on the aircraft. Once airborne, you’re free to swap out who gets to use the Sleeper Seat, but only one passenger may be seated in the Sleeper Seat at once. Additionally, children under 12 are not allowed to sit in a Sleeper Seat at any time. Lastly, you must select a standard economy class fare to select a Sleeper Seat. Economy Light fares are not eligible for Sleeper Seat upgrades.

Restrictions aside, Thomas Cook Airlines’ Sleeper Seat is quite affordable on many flights. The price to upgrade to a Sleeper Seat starts at just £199 (~260 USD).

Azul Linhas Aéreas’ Sky Sofa

Azul is an airline based in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and operates as a low-cost full-service hybrid. The airline offers some very competitive economy class fares while at the same time features a fairly premium business class cabin. The airline also offers a sleeper seat branded as Sky Sofa.

The airline’s Sky Sofa is available on flights operated with the airline’s Airbus A330s. Select routes might not be eligible for Sky Sofa service and the only way to know whether or not your flight features a Sky Sofa is to click through to the flight’s seat map. That said, most if not all Airbus A330s operated by the airline should feature the Sky Sofa.

(Image via Azul Airlines)
(Image via Azul Airlines)

Azul Aircraft Featuring the Sky Sofa

Aircraft Rows Seats
Airbus A330-200 13 and 14 DEFG

How To Book Azul’s Sky Sofa

Azul’s Sky Sofa sleeper seat is relatively new and is available on just seven wide-body aircraft. That said, it’s not a huge part of the Azul passenger experience. This is somewhat obvious when trying to book a Sky Sofa. Flights featuring the Sky Sofa do not feature any additional icons that would indicate Sky Sofa service. The only way to confirm Sky Sofa service is to provide passenger details and proceed to the seat map.

Like with the other two airlines, to book a Sky Sofa, proceed to Azul’s official website and provide all information in the booking engine to display relevant flights. Select a fare in economy class, provide all passenger information, and continue on to seat selection. Use the chart below to determine which seats feature the airline’s sleeper seat product.

Up to four passengers can be seated in the Sky Sofa at once. TPG tested selecting a Sky Sofa with four passengers and was able to successfully assign row 13 to all four adult passengers on the reservation. The price of the airline’s Sky Sofa, however, is by far the costliest out of the three airlines offering a sleeper seat product. For one passenger it was a whopping $1,000 one-way from Sao Paolo to Lisbon. For four passengers the price for all passengers from Sao Paolo to Lisbon was around $800 one-way.

The light blue row indicates the airline's Sky Sofa (Image via Azul's official website)
The light blue row indicates the airline’s Sky Sofa (Image via Azul’s official website)

Azul offers by far the longest sleeper seat in the sky. Azul uses four seats located in the center of the aircraft rather than three seats like Air New Zealand and Thomas Cook. This means that even the tallest passengers should be able to lie flat with no problem.

Former and Future Sleeper Seats

All Nippon Airways will soon become the fourth airline to feature a sleeper seat when the airline’s Airbus A380 enters into service later this year. All Nippon Airways, or ANA, has kept details of the in-flight experience somewhat limited. The airline has only released computer renderings of the cabin featured on the new A380. What we do know is that ANA’s A380s will feature First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy, standard Economy, and ANA’s COUCHii. COUCHii will encompass three to four seats and will be available to customers for a fee depending on the number of passengers. The COUCHii will debut on ANA’s Japan-Hawaii flights later this year.

ANA SkyCouch (Image via ANA)
ANA SkyCouch (Image via ANA)

The Bottom Line

Sleeper seats are a great way to provide a business class experience in coach. Though sold as an affordable upgrade from a standard economy class seat, solo travelers will probably find an upgrade to premium economy or even business class to be a better deal. However, couples or families traveling together should consider upgrading to a sky couch or sleeper seat if offered by the airline. Unfortunately, the sleeper seat concept has yet to catch on with major US carriers like American, Delta or United. That said, if you can manage to get an entire row to yourself, request a seatbelt extension and enjoy a poor man’s lie-flat bed free of charge.

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Featured image by Emily McNutt / The Points Guy

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