If you’ve ever glared enviously at first and business class passengers on flights, we have some good news for you. Air New Zealand is trialling some bunk beds for economy passengers.
Dubbed the Economy Skynest, it consists of six lie-flat sleeping pods that will be over 200cm x 58cm in size. It’s come off the back of three years of research by Air New Zealand and had input from over 200 customers.
The new product makes sense for the airline, which operates some of the longest long haul flights in the world. It will soon be operating an Auckland-New York service with a flight time of 17 hours 40 minutes.
As the company has only just filed the patent application for the Economy Skynest, implementation details are currently scarce. There is no word on which aircrafts will get the bunks beds or where in the economy cabin they will go. We also don’t know when they will be available to the general public – but they’re probably still awhile away.
“We see a future flying experience 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,” said Air New Zealand’s General Manager of Customer Experience, Nikki Goodman in a statement.
“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.”
Our biggest questions are around availability and pricing. While providing flat beds in economy is a step in the right direction when it comes to democratising in-flight comfort, six beds isn’t a lot. It will be interesting to see what kind of booking or payment system is put in place for them.
“Air New Zealand are still yet to determine the costs and are still assessing the commercial proposition and viability of this product. The concept is designed as a pod used for an allocated period during the flight. Customers will have their Economy seat for the other portion of the flight,” said an Air New Zealand representative in an email to Gizmodo Australia.
This new innovation in economy flying comes just a few weeks after the internet was fiercely debating whether it’s okay for economy passengers to recline their seats.
You can watch the Economy Skynest in action below.
This article has been updated with comment from Air New Zealand.