Air New Zealand will soon let economy passengers on its long-haul 787s reserve a bunk bed for four hours.
The airline said the world-first “Skynest pod” would be available on its eight new 787s that will arrive from 2024, while its current fleet would also be upgraded.
“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long-haul travel experience,” said the business’ chief executive, Greg Foran.
“We wanted to offer our Economy customers a lie-flat option, and that’s how Skynest was born. It’s going to be a real game-changer for the economy travel experience.”
Economy passengers would also be able to access “care stations” where they can stretch their legs and grab some food, alongside a new “Skycouch”.
All of the cheapest seats will also feature a 50 per cent bigger TV screen to watch movies onboard.
Chief customer officer Leanne Geraghty added, “Research shows us the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night’s sleep, so everything we do on board is to help create a sense of calm — from the lighting and sleep ritual, including sleepy teas and balms, to the healthier food choices and breathable fabrics.
“Meditative onscreen content, Zentertainment, will also help customers unwind and get ready for rest.”
Air New Zealand said its new 787s would feature a “Business Premier Luxe” seat with fully closing doors and space to dine for two. You can see a map of the new seating arrangements below.
The Kiwi flag carrier currently has a fleet of 14 787-9 Dreamliners, with another eight on order. The first two are confirmed to be the smaller ‘9’ variant, but the remaining six are yet to be decided.
The news comes as airlines are increasingly looking to better monetise the seats on board, with passenger numbers internationally falling post-COVID.
Qantas’s new A350-1000s that will fly Project Sunrise flights from 2025, for example, will have more than 40 per cent of the cabin dedicated to “premium seating”.
Its six first-class suites are all complete with a privacy door, separate bed, lounge chair, individual wardrobe and a 32-inch inflight entertainment screen, while its 52 business suites feature direct aisle access.
The 40 premium economy seats, meanwhile, will boast a 40-inch pitch and the 140 standard economy seats a 33-inch pitch.
Passengers will also have access to what it terms a “wellbeing zone”, with a self-serve snack station and digital displays providing movement and stretching recommendations.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said, “New types of aircraft make new things possible. That’s what makes today’s announcement so significant for the national carrier and for a country like Australia where air travel is crucial.”
The bespoke model ordered by Qantas has been specially adapted for such long-range flights, featuring an extra fuel tank so it can travel up to 16,100 kilometres.