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 for sleep. 

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 Dreamliner. 

"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 world. 

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.


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