Air New Zealand is considering the installation of lie-flat
sleepers in the economy cabin.
On Tuesday, the airline filed patent applications for a
six-sleeper pod called the Economy Skynest. One possible deployment for the
product is the carrier’s upcoming service between Auckland and Newark.
“A clear pain point for economy travelers on long-haul
flights is the inability to stretch out,” said Air New Zealand chief marketing
officer Mike Tod. “The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response
to that challenge.”
Under development for three years, the Economy Skynest
prototype has two rows of three bunks. Specs for bunks include length in excess
of 6.5 feet and nearly two feet of width. On a flight, each bunk would be
equipped with bedding and privacy curtains and augmented with lighting designed
The bunks are contained within the Skynest pod, which
features a front entranceway but is otherwise enclosed.
The pod would go someplace within the economy section of Air
New Zealand aircraft, though the carrier hasn’t determined the exact location.
On the Newark-Auckland route, Air New Zealand plans to fly a Boeing 787-9
"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,” Air New Zealand general manager of customer
experience Nikki Goodman said.
The carrier envisions customers purchasing a Skynest bed for just a portion of their flight.
When Air New Zealand launches Auckland-Newark service in
October, the route will be the longest in its network and the fifth-longest in
The carrier said it will make a final decision on whether to
utilize the Economy Skynest in 2021 after assessing the performance of the
Newark route over its first year.