UPDATED ON 30/06/22
Air New Zealand has unveiled new products for its Dreamliner aircraft, set to launch in 2024.
The carrier will introduce the “world’s first sleep pods” in economy class, known as Skynest, along with a new Business Premier Luxe seat.
It said that feedback from customer research over the past five years shone a light on the importance of a good night’s sleep and the need for more space and comfort.
The Skynest lie-flat concept, which was first announced in 2020, will consist of six sleeping pods which can be booked for four hour sessions by passengers sitting in either premium economy or economy.
Air New Zealand describes the experience as “like adding an extra bag to your booking”.
Each pod will include bedding that is changed between sessions – this transition should take around 30 minutes.
The products will be available on the eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, due to arrive in 2024, and retrofitted current 787-9 fleet.
A spokesperson from Air New Zealand told Business Traveller:
“When we were first investigating sleep onboard, we did a fair bit of research around sleep cycles. A typical sleep cycle is around 90 minutes, so a four-hour session gives the opportunity for customers to wind down, fall asleep and wake up.”
The carrier has not yet set a price for the Skynest and says that it will “continue to do customer testing” to establish “the most suitable price point”.
CEO Greg Foran commented:
“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long haul travel experience. We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested. Whether they are heading straight into a meeting, or to their first holiday hotspot – they want to hit the ground running.
“It’s a proud moment to finally unveil five years of hard mahi, in what truly is a cabin of possibility. One that will provide customers with options to get some shut eye wherever they’re sitting.”
Additional sleep aids include sleepy teas and balms, healthier food choices, breathable fabrics and meditative onscreen content. The airline has also added a Sky Pantry to the premium economy and economy cabins.
Business Premier, meanwhile, will see a new ‘Luxe’ product. Eight seats will feature a fully closing door and space for two to dine.
A new premium economy seat will also offer more privacy and space where passengers “can recline at leisure without interrupting the person behind”.
The regular economy seat will also see an upgrade, with more storage, space and a 50 per cent bigger IFE screen. Passengers will also be able to connect to Bluetooth audio and pair their device to act as a remote control or second screen.
Passengers will also have the choice of the economy stretch seat, which offers extra legroom, and the Skycouch, a row of economy seats.
On the sustainability front, the carrier has used modern fabrics, rather than leather, saving approximately one kilo in weight per Business Premier and Premium Economy Seat and reducing overall carbon emissions.
Premium cabins will also see a switch to 20 per cent lighter serviceware, helping to reduce emissions, while new serviceware in economy cabins will reduce plastic dishes used inflight by 28 million every year.
The interior design will be inspired by Aotearoa, including forest-inspired carpet and seats that draw inspiration from the country’s native bird, the Tui.
Analysis from Business Traveller’s consumer editor Alex McWhirter:
I believe the most interesting development is Skynest.
Why? Because it has the potential to improve the lot of long-haul economy travellers around the world.
Air NZ’s upgraded business class looks good, but only from 2024 by which time some others will doubtless have upgraded their products.
The kiwi airline has not revealed how Skynest will work. It’s reported Skynest will be sold at a surcharge on the economy and/or premium economy fares.
In addition Skynest accommodation will be restricted in use. NZ media refers to Skynest being made available for “unspecified periods.”
And it has yet to receive regulatory approval.