Air New Zealand has provided an update on its forthcoming Skynest “sleep pods”, with the product expected to debut on the carrier’s Boeing 787 aircraft from next year.
Plans were first announced for the innovative bunkbeds in 2020, and the carrier has now confirmed that they will initially be available on ultra-long-haul routes to New York and Chicago from September 2024.
The six-pod Skynest sleep zone will be positioned between economy and premium economy, with each pod offering a fully-flat bed, full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, as well as a separate reading light, USB port, ventilation outlet, and “lighting designed for rest”.
Each pod will feature a separate seatbelt “to ensure passengers can fasten them and stay in the pod should the seat belt sign come on during turbulence”.
The airline also said that “The lights will gently come on at the end of each session, and crew will politely wake any passengers who sleep through this”.
Bedding will be changed between each session, with a 30-minute transition time built in to allow for this.
Customers travelling in economy cabins will be able to book one four-hour session per passenger on their reservation, subject to availability.
Air New Zealand’s chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said that the carrier was “still working through the exact details of how the booking process will work, and we have yet to determine the price”, but added that “at this stage are looking at around NZ$400 to NZ$600 for the four-hour period”.
“Our 83-year history is marked by a commitment to innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” said Geraghty .
“Skynest is the latest example, and we’re proud to be leading the way with this world-first cabin feature.
“Skynest has captured the imagination of a global audience and its uniqueness has already been acknowledged by multiple awards – the latest being a finalist in the Crystal Cabin Awards.
“We’re delighted that customers are as excited about this new innovation as we are. Our extensive research and design process, which spanned five years and 170,000 hours, has resulted in a product that we’re confident will revolutionise the in-flight experience for Economy passengers.”
“We’re delighted to announce that our innovative Economy Skynest will be launching on ultra-long haul flights, starting with the popular Auckland – New York and Auckland – Chicago routes.
“North America is the perfect market for Skynest, as it has a premium segment that values comfort and sleep during long-haul travel.
“With our ultra-long haul routes to destinations such as New York and Chicago, Skynest provides a unique and innovative way for our passengers to rest and recharge, making their journey with us even more enjoyable.
“By launching Skynest on these routes, we are bringing to life our commitment to providing choice, alongside the best possible experience for our passengers, and to continue to innovate and lead the way in the aviation industry.
“As a proudly New Zealand company, we’re delighted to announce that Skynest will be designed and installed right here in Aotearoa.
“While our overall 787 refit will occur offshore in the best Boeing facilities, our best engineers and designers will develop Skynest in New Zealand, using the latest in cutting-edge technology and design.”
This week Air New Zealand also announced a NZ$3.5 billion (US$2.2 billion) investment in the purchase of eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and five Airbus A320neo aircraft, as well as the refurbishment of 14 existing Boeing 787-9 aircraft.