March 3, 2020
You’ve never flown quite like this before!
Air New Zealand announced this week that the airline is looking into incorporating bunk bed-style pods on its planes, which will allow passengers flying in economy class the chance to lie down during long-haul trips — specifically their almost 18-hour non-stop flight from New York to Auckland, which will launch in October 2020.
On Wednesday, the airline filed patent and trademark applications for their Economy Skynest, which incorporates 6 sleeping pods, split into 2 stacks, which are each three levels high. Each pod will be over 6 feet in length and about 2 feet wide.
In addition to some of the more standard things a passenger might find on their own beds at home — like sheets, a blanket and a full-size pillow — each pod will also come equipped with ear plugs, a privacy curtain and a lighting setup specifically designed for snoozing.
Air New Zealand is also looking into outfitting each pod with its own ventilation outlet and USB outlet.
While the exact cost of the Skynest has yet to be determined, it would be a feature guests would be able to book “in addition to their Economy seat,” General Manager of Customer Experience Nikki Goodman said in a press release.
“The concept is designed as a pod you go to during the flight,” a company spokesperson told the Guardian Australia. “You will still have your economy seat separately for the other portion of the flight.”
The spokesperson went on to clarify that the cabin crew would freshen up the pods between each session, as multiple passengers could take turns inhabiting the pods during each flight.
Air New Zealand, which has spent three years developing the pods, will make the final decision on whether to incorporate the Skynest onto planes after the inaugural year of operating the Auckland-New York flights.
The airline will also need to get the Skynest approved by regulators.
“It was a prize worth chasing and one that we think has the potential to be a game-changer for economy class travelers on all airlines around the world,” said Kerry Reeves, Air New Zealand’s head of airline programs.
Lie-flat seats are already common in first and business class seats on many international and domestic airlines that regularly fly long-haul and red-eye flights, but are the most expensive to book. Air New Zealand has not yet released pricing for a session in one of its sleeping pods.