While travelers will have to wait until late 2021 to find out whether they will be able to nest in Air New Zealand’s latest economy-class sleep solution, the airline is confident that Economy Skynest will significantly improve long-haul travel. But this isn’t the Auckland-based carrier’s first economy-class bed product – its Economy Skycouch has been in service since 2011.
Air New Zealand unveiled a prototype of economy-class bunk beds yesterday. The airline also announced that it filed a patent and trademark applications for the Economy Skynest, which consists of six sleep pods, with two on each level.
While the airline is still reviewing the commercial feasibility of the product, if it does get the green light, each pod would measure around 80 inches long and 23 inches wide at the shoulder area and include sheets, a blanket, a full-size pillow and ear plugs. Each pod would also be equipped with a seatbelt to ensure the passenger can remain in the pod during turbulence. Curtains add privacy and the lighting is designed to promote sleep. The airline is not able to confirm exactly where the Economy Skynest would be placed in the economy-class cabin but did reveal that it is exploring other features, including a separate reading light, a USB outlet and a ventilation outlet.
“We see a future flying experience where an economy-class customer on long-haul flights would be able to book the Economy Skynest in addition to their economy seat, get some quality rest and arrive at their destination ready to go,” said Nikki Goodman, general manager of Customer Experience, Air New Zealand.
Air New Zealand plans to make a final decision on whether to operate Economy Skynest after it has assessed the performance of its inaugural year of Auckland–New York operations, which will be one of the world’s longest routes when it launches in October 2020. In the meantime, the airline will continue developing the product at its Hangar 22 innovation center in Auckland as part of its Future Aircraft Cabin Experience program. The current prototype took three years to create and is based on feedback from over 200 customers.
The carrier isn’t the first to suggest a bunk bed concept for aircraft. Formation Design’s elevated bed concept was shortlisted for a 2016 Crystal Cabin Award. In 2018, Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace unveiled bunk bed modules for A330 aircraft. At the time, the companies said they expected the modules would be certified and available for airlines by this year. Earlier this month, ADSE introduced its Economy Sky Dream concept, which replaces overhead bins with bunk beds in economy class.