(CNN) — For the first time ever, economy class passengers will have the option of sleeping on real beds during their flights.
Air New Zealand has announced that the “Skynest” concept, which features six full-length sleeper cabins, will be part of its lineup of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will be commissioned in 2024.
Each pod in the sleeping zone is located between the Premium Economy and Economy cabins and is equipped with a large pillow, bedding, earplugs, a reading light, a USB port and a ventilation outlet. The pods are stacked like bunk beds, with two rows of three beds each.
An Air New Zealand media representative told CNN Travel via email that the airline is still working on the exact details of how the pods will be booked, but offered a few insights into what it could look like.
“At this stage, each passenger is limited to a four-hour session in one pod, at an additional cost to their regular Economy Class seats,” the representative said. “The airline has done quite a bit of research on sleep cycles. A typical sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, so a four-hour session gives customers the opportunity to relax, fall asleep and wake up.”
Bed linen is changed between each session.
Since Air New Zealand operates some of the longest flights in the world, the beds will be a welcome change for travelers who can’t sleep sitting down.
In September 2022, Air New Zealand will launch non-stop flights between Auckland and New York’s JFK Airport. The flight time? 5 p.m. — making it the longest scheduled passenger flight in the world.
“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead the way in ultra-long-haul travel,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Air New Zealand in a statement.
“We have focused on sleep, comfort and well-being because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well rested. Whether going straight to a meeting or to their first holiday hotspot – they want to get started right away.”
New offering includes ‘Business Premier Luxe’ suites
Air New Zealand’s new cabins will also feature “Business Premier Luxury” suites, offering added privacy.
Air New Zealand
Creating innovative new seating concepts is the easy part. Getting them up and running is a long, complicated process involving mountains of testing and government approvals.
As mentioned above, it will take another two years before the Skynest can be booked.
In addition to eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which will be delivered to the airline from 2024, Air New Zealand is also upgrading its current 787-9 fleet.
The aircraft have eight or four Business Premier Luxury seats, 42 or 22 Business Premier seats, 52 or 33 Premium Economy seats, and 125 or 213 Economy seats.
Aircraft used on the ultra-long-haul routes contain the six Skynest sleeping capsules.
“Research shows that the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night’s sleep, so all we do on board is to create a sense of calm – from the lighting and bedtime ritual including sleepy teas and balms, to healthier food choices and breathable fabrics,” Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said in the statement.
“On-screen meditation content, Zentertainment, will also help customers relax and get ready for rest.”
Economy class passengers aren’t the only ones to get an upgrade either. The new cabins will also feature Business Premier Luxe suites, offering additional privacy.
These will include all the trappings of the airline’s Business Premier class, but with a fully closing door and ample space for two people to dine together.
Top image: Air New Zealand’s Skynest sleeping zones can be booked in 2024. Credit: Air New Zealand