Air New Zealand unveils pod bed plans for budget travellers
Posted on 05/03/2020

TransportNew Zealand

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Operating some of the longest flights in the world, Air New Zealand has revealed they are looking at sleeping pods with pillows, sheets and blankets for economy travellers. But it will be at least another year before future long-haul flight passengers can enjoy the new flat beds.

Long haul flights get much more comfortable!

Long haul flights get much more comfortable!
© khunaspix / 123RF

The airline has shared its trademark applications to the Economy Skynest, which consists of six 200cm long and 58cm wide sleep pods - two sets of three levels of beds.

The beds will have a pod hotel design, with a full-size pillow, sheets, blankets, ear plugs, and a privacy curtain. Other features might include a USB outlet and a reading light.

The company's chief marketing and customer officer, Mike Tod, said they would be aimed at the longest haul flights, such as the Auckland to New York, which will be launched next year and take 17 hours and 40 minutes. When the flight launches, the airline will then make a decision regarding the future Skynest.

The concept is to create an additional option (and cost) for the sleep pods, and customers would still have to book a separate seat on their flight. "The concept is designed as a pod you go to during the flight," said a spokeswoman. "You will still have your economy seat separately for the other portion of the flight."

Passengers won't have to book beds for the whole flight, they will be able to book sessions during flights, while cabin crews will be responsible for changing and freshening up the beds. However, the airline needs to get it certified before passengers can enjoy any of that.

"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 Kerry Reeves, Air New Zealand's head of airline programmes.

If the pod beds work, Air New Zealand has said it would be open to licensing the Skynest to other airlines.

The airline is not the first one to try and change passengers' experience on flights. Collins Aerospace disclosed its plans for a "self-serve social zone", a snack and drink bar space for passengers to socialise and get refreshed mid-flight.

But not all proposals go through. In 2012, Ryanair and its standing-only tickets, with hand rails and straps like those on the London Underground in the place of seat belts, was dismissed and the airline was even forbidden from trialling its designs.