Air New Zealand will soon allow economy passengers to lie down and take a nap in communal, bunk bed-style sleeping pods on its planes, as it attempts to lure passengers onto its more than 17-hour ultra-long haul flights.
Premium and regular economy passengers will still be sold traditional seats that do not recline into a bed when the airline says it will be a world first when its new cabins are installed by 2024.
These passengers will be able to book four hour sessions in lie-flat sleeping pods, which the airline has named Skynest at an additional cost.
Pods will have a mattress and sheets that will be changed by the cabin crew after each booking and will be stacked on top of each other to take advantage of the height of the cabin.
Each pod will have a privacy curtain, USB charging and ventilation outlets. Five economy seats will be removed to make space for six of the Skynest pods across eight Boeing 787- 9 Dreamliners that Air New Zealand will receive from the end of 2024.
The sleeping pods won't be available for the launch of Air New Zealand's direct flights between Auckland and New York this September, a route that is set to exceed 17 hours. The airline will resume its Auckland to Chicago service in October.
An Air New Zealand spokeswoman told the Guardian that the booking cost for a four-hour session in one of the beds has not yet been determined, but it will only be open to regular and premium economy passengers.
Passengers will only be able to book one session in a pod per flight, as demand from the more than 200 seats in the economy cabin is expected to be strong.
The spokeswoman said that the sleeping pods would only be used for one person at a time. The airline is developing a booking system for the pods.
Greg Foran, Air New Zealand's chief executive, said the bunk-style beds will be a game-changer for the economy travel experience New Zealand's location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long haul travel experience. Foran said that we have zeroed in on sleep, comfort and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested. They want to hit the ground running if they are heading straight into a meeting, or to their first holiday hotspot. According to Leanne Geraghty, the airline's chief customer and sales officer, research shows that the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night s sleep, so everything we do onboard is to create a sense of calm, from sleepy teas and balms, to healthier food choices and breathable fabrics. Air New Zealand plans for sleeping pods come amid a series of recent developments in the push toward ultra-long haul flights between the region and the east coast of the United States and Europe.
In May, Australia s Qantas unveiled details of its long-anticipated plans to run nonstop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York. Some of the so-called Project Sunrise flights will begin at the end of 2025 and will begin at the end of 2025. Qantas has announced wellbeing zones for passengers to move about and stretch on its ultra-long haul flights.
Air New Zealand also announced similar style care stations for passengers in its new cabin designs on Wednesday.
In 2020, the airline has announced plans for beds for economy passengers, and already offers Skycouch, where family or passengers who have booked seats in economy, or have spare seats next to them, can request special footrests that turn the row into a makeshift bed.