Air New Zealand has unveiled a radical makeover of its cabins, featuring sleep pods for travellers enduring economy on ultra-long-haul flights.
Dubbed Skynest, the pods will be the world’s first in the sky for economy travellers, the airline said on Wednesday.
“We wanted to offer our economy customers a lie-flat option and that’s how Skynest was born. It’s going to be a real game-changer for the economy travel experience,” chief executive Greg Foran said.
The pods will be available on Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which are due to arrive in 2024, and its retrofitted 787-9 fleet, when flying ultra-long-haul to destinations such as New York and Chicago.
There will be six lie-flat sleep pods – or bunks – for economy passengers. They will be able to be booked in four-hour time slots, with an additional cost yet to be announced.
“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long-haul travel experience,” Mr Foran said.
“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 (work), in what truly is a cabin of possibility. One that will provide customers with options to get some shut eye wherever they’re sitting.”
Air NZ unveiled the concept in 2020. It is part of a major overhaul of the airline’s cabins, which also includes a “sky pantry” where economy and premium economy travellers can help themselves to snacks.
The airline will also offer a new business premier luxe suite, which will allow two passengers to dine together behind a closed door. There will also be new business premier seats.
Mr Foran said it had been nearly 20 years since Air NZ’s long-haul planes had had such a significant cabin upgrade.
He told NZ media he was confident demand would continue to increase as the world emerged from COVID. Air NZ will launch its New York route in September, after it was delayed due to the pandemic.
Mr Foran said the airline expected to be operating at 100 per cent of pre-COVID levels domestically during the upcoming NZ school holidays, and the Tasman routes were coming back strongly.