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Air New Zealand’s Skynest Pods: What We Know So Far

The new product will feature economy class bed bunks on non-stop flights from Auckland to two U.S. destinations

by Matteo Legnani

May 10, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has announced introducing a new luxury sleeping experience for Economy Class passengers in September 2024. The airline’s new SkyNest product will feature economy class bed bunks on non-stop flights connecting its Auckland hub with two U.S. destinations: New York (JFK) and Chicago, with flight times of approximately 17 hours.

This project, first announced in 2020 and confirmed last year, will comprise six sleep pods in a bunk bed configuration to be located between the Premium Economy and Economy cabins on selected Boeing 787-9s—the aircraft type used for the carrier’s longest routes.

Photo: Courtesy of Air New Zealand

Until now, lie-flat seats on airliners have been a luxury reserved only for First and Business Class passengers. The new project aims to offer an improved sleeping experience for Economy Class passengers on long-haul flights. The announcement comes when demand for air travel is picking up after two years of the Covid pandemic.

The SkyNest is expected to offer significantly more personal space than the carrier’s current SkyCouch product, which allows Economy passengers to transform a row of three seats into a “bed.”

The six SkyNest pods will be 6ft 6″ (200cm)-long and approximately 2ft (58cm)-wide, providing far more space than the SkyCouch, which results in a 5ft 1″ (155cm)-long bed.

On May 10, Air New Zealand revealed several more details about its future onboard product, including amenities and prices: each SkyNest pod will come with USB charging ports, a reading light, ear plugs, full-size sheets, a blanket, and a pillow. There will also be seatbelts to ensure the beds adhere to onboard safety protocols.

Only one person can use a pod at a time, even if people wish to share with partners or children. Passengers will be limited to a four-hour session per flight, based on availability.

The price for pre-booking a four-hour slot in the pod will vary between NZD 400-600 ($255-380), in addition to the cost of the Economy ticket.

Photo: Courtesy of Air New Zealand

After each use, the cabin crew will change the bedding, with a 30-minute transition time allowed for this. The lights will come on at the end of each session, and the crew will wake any passengers who sleep through this. Each pod will be able to host four passengers, giving 24 slots available on each leg of the flight.

“The airline did a fair bit of research around sleep cycles. A typical sleep cycle is around 90 minutes, so a four-hour session gives the opportunity for customers to wind down, fall asleep and wake up,” a representative for Air New Zealand said.