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Beds in Economy: how Air NZ wants to change the way we travel

Air New Zealand’s new lie-flat sleep pods, designed specifically for use in the Economy cabin, has rightly been called “a game changer on so many levels”. 


Dubbed the Economy Skynest, the six full length lie-flat sleep pods are the result of three years of Air New Zealand research and development and include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, privacy curtains and lighting designed for sleep.



While you won’t yet see the Skynest on your next Air NZ flight, the airline today filed patent and trademark applications for it, and will make a final decision on whether to operate the Economy Skynest next year after it has “assessed the performance of its inaugural year of Auckland-New York operations”.


Travelling to and from countries down under takes a long time and the prospect of sitting in an uncomfortable seat for upwards of 14 hours is not a cheery prospect, so innovations such as this may help airlines sell their Economy seats to those wanting more comfort without having to shell out for the full Business class price tag.


Air NZ operates some of the world’s longest flights, such as the upcoming Auckland-New York service at up to 17 hours 40 minutes one way, and is thus committed to “putting more magic back into flying”, Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod says.


“We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft," Mr Tod explains. 


"A clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.” 


Air New Zealand General Manager of Customer Experience Nikki Goodman says the airline sees a future “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”.


“This is a game changer on so many levels,” she states.


“We’re so excited to be sharing this product development with our customers. This is one of the highlights of three years’ intensive work centred on customer wellbeing.


"We’re sure this innovation is going to be a game changer for the industry and bring significant improvements to long-haul flying. We expect other airlines will want to explore licensing the Economy Skynest from us just as they have with the Economy Skycouch.”


According to Air New Zealand’s Head of Airline Programmes Kerry Reeves the scale of the challenge in developing the Economy Skynest and working through its certification with the necessary regulators is immense compared to the development of the Economy Skycouch.


“But it was a prize worth chasing and one that we think has the potential to be a game changer for economy class travellers on all airlines around the world,” he said.


Each pod is over 200cm long and 58cm wise at shoulder level.


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Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 26 February 2020

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