Here’s something that would be absolutely awesome, but I’m skeptical of whether it will ever become a reality.
Air New Zealand’s Skynest economy beds
Air New Zealand has today unveiled a new lie-flat prototype sleep product for economy travelers. The airline is today filing a patent and trademark application for the concept, which they’ve been working on for three years.
Each Air New Zealand’s Skynest consists of six full length lie-flat sleep pods, which are in a “V” shape, with three levels.
Here’s a video showcasing the concept:
As Air New Zealand’ Chief Marketing and Customer Officer, Mike Tod, describes the product:
“We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft. A clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.”
A final decision will be made in 2021
Air New Zealand says that they’ll make a final decision on whether to actually offer this product in 2021, after assessing the performance of the inaugural year of Auckland to Newark operations (so that suggests a decision would come in late 2021 at the earliest).
How big would these economy bunk beds be?
With this concept there would be three beds on top of one another, and each would be at least 200cm (~78 inches) long, and at least 58cm (~23 inches) wide around the shoulder area.
Each sleeping pod would include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, and ear plugs, along with privacy curtains and lighting designed for sleep.
Other features are being explored as well, including separate reading lights, personal device USB outlets, and air nozzles.
How would Air New Zealand sell these beds?
One thing Air New Zealand hasn’t addressed yet is the logistics of these bunk beds, especially regarding how they’d sell Skynests.
These are beds that don’t turn into seats, so you presumably wouldn’t be booking a Skynest for the entire flight. Rather I’d assume that you can buy a Skynest to rest for some portion of the flight. Will they essentially sell it so that passengers can pay for some number of hours of rest, or…?
If so, I’m curious what their research has revealed regarding peoples’ willingness to pay. Are there enough economy passengers willing to pay a sizable amount to make this financially viable?
Where in the plane would Skynests be located?
Air New Zealand has only so far said that these Skynests would be in the economy cabin. They haven’t clarified where in the economy cabin they would be, though.
We’ve seen the concept of bunk beds proposed in the past, though most proposals I’ve seen involve cargo containers that can be connected to the cabin (just as some A340-600s have lavatories on the lower floor in economy). It sounds like these bunk beds would be integrated into the main cabin, though.
The crew rests are located above the cabin, though with beds stacked three high, it sounds like this would actually be in lieu of some seats in the cabin.
Other airlines can license the concept
Air New Zealand does explicitly note in the press release that they expect other airlines will want to license the Economy Skynest. That’s an interesting thing to explicitly call out in a press release about this concept, and makes you wonder…
Air New Zealand did introduce the Skycouch
When it comes to unique economy class concepts, I do think it’s worth noting that Air New Zealand came up with the Skycouch concept. With this, a row of economy seats can essentially be turned into a couch. This is great for couples, or those traveling with families.
The biggest shortcoming of the Skycouch is the size — it’s only 49″ long, which is 4ft1in. Unless you’re on the shorter side, it’s not exactly a long enough surface on which to properly sleep.
This is an innovative concept from Air New Zealand, and we’ve truly never seen anything like this before from an airline in economy. The concept as such has been thrown around before, though we’ve never seen an airline follow through.
While I’d love to see this, I’m highly skeptical, and would speculate that the airline probably won’t end up following through with this concept. It sounds like we’ll have to wait until late 2021 at the earliest for Air New Zealand to make a decision.
This would be awesome, though I’m still curious how the logistics would work. Would you reserve a Skynest with your ticket for a certain number of hours during the flight, and if so, do you select the “slot” you want at booking, or…?
What do you make of Air New Zealand’s Skynest?