Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Air New Zealand to put bunk beds in economy cabins

The airline has filed a patent for a new lie-flat sleep pod for passengers flying in economy class

Air New Zealand has designed an Economy Skynest that would let passengers lie-flat on long-haul flights. Courtesy Air New Zealand. 
Air New Zealand has designed an Economy Skynest that would let passengers lie-flat on long-haul flights. Courtesy Air New Zealand. 

Air New Zealand plans to introduce lie-flat beds for passengers flying in economy class.

The airline filed a patent for its Economy Skynest this week. The pod-based design provides six full length lie-flat beds spread over three levels.

As an airline that operates some of the world's longest flights, Air New Zealand has spent three years researching passenger in-flight wellness. It's newest route set to commence in October is a 14,207km journey from Auckland to New York.

"A clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out," said Mike Tod, chief marketing and customer officer at Air New Zealand. "The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge," he added.

The Economy Skynest is designed to be booked in addition to an economy class seat. This would allow passengers to utilise the lie-flat beds at a specified period during long-haul flights to get some rest.

Three-storey bunk beds

Described by the airline as a "game-changer", the pod-like nests are made up of six lie-flat beds.

Passengers using the beds will be provided with a full-sized pillow, sheets and a blanket. Ear plugs would also be provided and the space has privacy curtains and lighting designed to promote sleep.

"We are exploring other features such as separate reading light, personal device USB outlet and ventilation outlet," said the airline in a statement.

Air New Zealand will make a final decision on whether to operate the Economy Skynest in 2021.

Scheduled sleeping

It's not clear yet how many Skynests would be installed in each aircraft or where in the economy cabin they would be placed. How long customers might be able to book the pods for has also not been revealed.

The airline's long-haul fleet is primarily made up of Boeing aircraft. Its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners can seat up to 221 passengers in standard economy class. With an Economy Skynest able to accommodate up to six passengers, a single installation on each aircraft would need to rotate passengers 36 times per flight if every passenger wanted to book time in the pod.

This would mean that on the upcoming Auckland to New York route, which has a flight time of 17 hours and 40 minutes, each passenger would average around 47 minutes off lie-flat time in the skynest.

The airline already offers Skycouch services for economy passengers on long-haul flights. This allows travellers to book a row of three economy seats that can be turned into couches or lie-flay beds. Mattresses, bedding and special footrests help travellers get comfortable.

Updated: February 26, 2020 10:38 AM



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