UX London is a fantastic three-day event which opens with a day of inspirational presentations, followed by two days of practical, in-depth workshops covering core skills, strategic thinking and advanced techniques.

Leif Roy

Designing the Skycouch: How Air New Zealand moved from selling seats to selling experiences

Leif Roy

Wednesday 18 April, 15:45 - 16:00

At the end of 2006, the Air New Zealand board challenged a small team to redesign the long-haul flying experience. Just over three years later, Air New Zealand unveiled the Skycouch, the world’s first lie-flat economy-class bed.

The story of those three years is one of world-class innovation, inventive design research and old fashioned hard work. Instrumental to the success of this project was; the research work that helped develop a comprehensive and compelling understanding of Air New Zealand’s long haul customers, and the iterative design and testing process that ensured that the new designs would satisfy and delight the end user.

Among the many challenges inherent in this project was the need to recreate the long haul flying experience, for testing purposes, without the availability of an aircraft.


  • The five key customer drivers that inspired the innovation
  • How design bootcamps were used to generate seat concepts
  • How the seat concepts were refined by simulating the long-haul flying experience
  • This session will inspire anyone who cares about the customer experience at their organisation.

About the Speaker, Leif Roy

In the last decade Leif has worked on an exciting range of projects and products across a breadth of industries including: commercial furniture, airline interiors and seating, and digital technology.

With a background in industrial design, Leif has a specific interest in understanding how people relate to the products and environments around us; what our unmet latent needs are, how we can design products to meet these needs and in doing so improve the relationship that we have with the stuff around us. Leif is the Wellington Manager at New Zealand UX research and design consultancy Optimal Usability.