Airline which operates some of world’s longest flights is considering ‘Skynest’ sleep pods with pillows, sheets and blankets
Air New Zealand has announced it could have flat beds in economy for some of its long-haul flights, but it will be more than a year before customers could get the chance to sleep in one of the new pod beds.
The airline said on Wednesday it had filed patent and trademark applications for what it is calling the Economy Skynest. The Skynest would contain six full-length sleep pods at 200cm long and 58cm wide each. There will be three levels of beds and two beds on each level.
The proposed Air NZ ‘Skynest’ sleep pods. Photograph: Air New Zealand
Accompanying each bed, which resembles a pod hotel design, will be a full-size pillow, sheets and blankets, ear plugs, and a privacy curtain. Air New Zealand was still assessing whether it could include other features like a USB outlet and a reading light.
The company’s chief marketing and customer officer, Mike Tod, said in the announcement that the product would be aimed at some of Air New Zealand’s longest haul flights, including the Auckland to New York service launching next year – the flight takes 17 hours and 40 minutes.
Tod said when that route launches Air New Zealand will make a decision on whether to go ahead with the Skynest.
The cost of the Skynest for customers has yet to be determined, a spokeswoman for Air New Zealand told Guardian Australia, but it would be separate to the cost of booking a seat on the flight.
“The concept is designed as a pod you go to during the flight,” she said. “You will still have your economy seat separately for the other portion of the flight.”
Customers could book a session in the bed during the flight, rather than the whole flight, the spokeswoman said, and the cabin crew would change and freshen up the pods with new bedding for each session.
The airline would need to get it certified with regulators before passengers can expect to climb into the in-air beds.
“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,” said Air New Zealand’s head of airline programmes, Kerry Reeves.
If the product takes off, Air New Zealand has said it is open to licensing the Skynest to other airlines.
The Auckland to New York flight results in 650kg of CO2 emissions per passenger, according to the UN’s carbon emissions calculator. Air New Zealand had not immediately responded to a request to confirm the amount.
Qantas has indicated its economy seats for the A350, which will be used for the mega long haul flights launching in 2023 between Sydney and London and Sydney and New York will be a bit more roomy with an extra 3cm in width than the current economy seats.
The Skynest would contain six full-length sleep pods at 200cm long and 58cm wide each. Photograph: Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand is not the first airline to attempt to reform passengers’ in-air experience.
Last year, Collins Aerospace announced the launch of a “self-serve social zone”, which would see aircraft doorways transformed into snack and drink bars for passengers to socialise and fuel up mid-flight.
The innovation won Collins Aerospace a position in the final of 2019’s Crystal Cabin Awards – the awards for aircraft interior innovation – alongside Airbus, who announced plans to introduce sleeping berths in the cargo decks of their planes. The designs included a lounge, conference room, medical care zone and kids and family area, built on the lower deck of Airbus aircrafts.
However, not all proposals have been so well-received. In 2012, Ryanair’s plan to offer standing-only tickets, with hand rails and straps like those on the London Underground in the place of seat belts, was scrapped after regulators prevented the airline from trialling its designs.
(Source: The Guardian)