Air New Zealand is launching bunk beds for economy passengers

Airline’s new and re-fitted planes will have six Skynest ‘sleep pods’ to book

Air New Zealand shares designs for new economy bunk beds

Air New Zealand has unveiled its designs for new economy bunk beds that will be bookable on flights from 2024.

The “Skynest” sleep pods are stacked three bunks high and will be available to economy and premium economy travellers, with a slim, hostel-style bunk, basic pillow and blanket behind a curtain.

The pods will be bathed in a “soothing pink light” to aid sleep. Rather than being traditional seats to book for the whole flight, economy travellers will reserve a pod for a four-hour slot as an add-on to an economy seat, to get a few hours’ kip during the journey.

They’ll be available on eight new Dreamliners due to be delivered to the carrier in 2024, as well as on a series of existing Boeing 787-9s which will be re-fitted with the new-style cabins.

It’s the first lie-flat bed to come to any economy class - though the airline has yet to reveal the price for what is sure to be a hot ticket, with just six on board each aircraft.

Described as “a game changer for economy travellers”, the bunk beds will join newly designed Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe seats - with a closing door and space for two to dine together - in the new cabins.

A crew member with the Skynest cabin section

There will also be a new “Sky Pantry” for economy and premium travellers, where they can grab snacks, water and stretch their legs during night flights.

“We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested,” said Air New Zealand’s chief executive officer Greg Foran.

“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.”

The carrier said that sleep was a priority for customers on its ultra-long-haul flights (it’s set to launch a 17.5-hour route from Auckland to New York City in September, which will become the fourth longest commercial route in existence).

“Feedback from extensive customer research over five years has highlighted the importance for a good night’s sleep and the need for more space and comfort, so the new experience is designed around creating a home away from home that leaves customers refreshed and raring to go at their destination,” says a statement from Air New Zealand.

It added that heavy materials such as leather had been abandoned in favour of lightweight, sustainable “modern materials” that it says will “save around one kilogram in weight per Business Premier and Premium Economy seat, reducing overall carbon emissions”.

It’s also overhauling its cutlery and crockery, introducing catering materials that are 20 per cent lighter, in a bid to reduce emissions. It claims that its new economy serviceware alone will amount to 28 million fewer plastic dishes used in the sky each year.

Air New Zealand launched another gamechanger, Skycouch, in 2011, enabling economy passengers to turn a row of three seats into a couch mid-flight.

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