Air New Zealand launches the Skycouch - flat bed area in economy

The 'Skycouch' is the alternative to crossing your fingers and hoping for an empty row of three seats to stretch out on during long haul journeys - or selling the car to fly business class.

The new set-up means armrests retract fully (hurrah engineers!) and a foot-rest raises up to create a flat mattress panel up to the back of the seat in front of you.

Other upgrades to the economy service include mood-lighting to help you transition between time zones, bigger entertainment touch screens and touch-of-a-button snack requests in between meals.

For two adults travelling, purchasing the Skycouch will be based on buying two seats at standard prices with the third seat at approximately half price. The new formation could also create a more comfortable experience for families with small children.

Twenty-two sets of Skycouch seats will be available, being the first 11 window rows in the economy class cabin on new long range Boeing 777 aircraft to be introduced from November.

For those who choose, the days of sitting in economy and yearning to lie down and sleep are gone. The dream is now a reality, one that you can even share with a travelling companion - just keep your clothes on thanks, says Air New Zealand CEO Rob Fyfe.