Air New Zealand’s New NASA Pillow

Filed Under: Air New Zealand

In general I think good bedding in first and business class is underrated. Many airlines spend hundreds of millions of dollars on new premium cabin seats, only to drop the ball when it comes to the bedding they offer their passengers, which is a very small cost, by comparison.

This is something that United has done extremely well in Polaris — their bedding is phenomenal, the best of any airline in business class, in my opinion.

United’s Polaris bedding

Anyway, another airline is now making a big deal of their new pillow, though I’m not sure how excited we should really be getting here.

Air New Zealand is rolling out a new pillow for Business Premier passengers on their Chicago route. The new pillow uses technology originally developed for astronauts, and they’re claiming they’re the first airline in the world to offer that.

Air New Zealand’s NASA pillow

The pillow is coated with Outlast, which was developed for use in space gloves to protect against extreme temperature fluctuations and keep hands cool. So the idea is that the pillow absorbs heat as the skin gets hot, and as the skin cools the heat is released.

Air New Zealand’s Senior Manager Customer of Experience, Niki Chave, had the following to say about the new pillow:

“We know quality sleep is important to our passengers, particularly those traveling in Business Premier on our long haul routes. This pillow allows passengers to lay on the side that regulates their temperature or sleep on the regular side, which ultimately gives them more control over their environment.”

The temperature regulating aspect of the pillow doesn’t sound unlike United’s gel pillow, though perhaps this is more high tech. That’s something I’m generally a fan of.

Hopefully Air New Zealand rolls these pillows out on other routes as well, given that as of now they’ve only revealed that the Chicago route will have the seats. The airline isn’t that big, so I feel like at a minimum the airline should be able to give a timeline of when the new pillows will be available on more routes.

Speaking of business class, what’s really overdue is Air New Zealand introducing a new business class seats. Currently they have herringbone seats, and those simply aren’t competitive anymore.

The airline is allegedly working on a refresh of their current seat, and also plans on introducing an all new business class seat, though the details of that haven’t yet been revealed. It’s long overdue…

Air New Zealand’s future 787-10s should have new seats

  1. Actually they have revealed they are making a new seat. I’m pretty sure it’s due to come online in 2020, and then yet another new seat for the 787-10s

  2. The pillow is coated with Outlast, which was developed for use in space gloves to protect against extreme temperature fluctuations and keep hands cool.

    Aeroflot gives you a personal air nozzle.

    A 50 year old joke and it still never gets old. LOL

    When NASA started sending astronauts into space, they quickly
    Discovered that ball-point pens would not work in zero
    Gravity. To combat this problem, NASA scientists spent a
    Decade and $12 billion developing a pen that writes in zero
    Gravity, upside-down, on almost any surface including glass
    And at temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 300 C.

    The Russians used a pencil.

  3. @Eskimo

    It’s a funny story to tell but the main reason NASA didn’t use pencils is that graphite can break off and become fire hazards in the space cabin. Eventually the Soviet Union swapped to a high-tech pen as well. It’s worth noting that blasting cold air at your face when you sleep for hours can do harm to your throat.

  4. @betterbub @Chaney

    While we all know that the Pen vs Pencil thing is a joke and not fact. What most people do know (which is wrong) and often say after this joke is “graphite can break off and become fire hazards in the space cabin.”

    1.)Pencil lead graphite is actually a graphite-clay composite.
    2.)Carbon does not sustain burning easily unless it is held at very high temperatures.

    Pencil lead will not burn effectively for the first reason as clay is non-combustible and smothers any fire load. If you did have pure graphite to burn, a simple flame wouldn’t be hot enough to combust it. You need to sustain temperatures of around 1000−2000 ∘C in order for pure carbon to burn.

    So there you go.

    Now do I need to debunk the myth of blasting cold air and the harm to your throat?

  5. Not competitive anymore? Uhm….Ben… I would fly in the AirNZ awesome Biz seat any day than the United Polaris seat. Note that the herringbone formation and the fact there’s no cubie hole for your feet (a la Polaris) means those who are of above average height can sleep better on the AirNZ Biz seats. I purposefully seek out airlines with no cubie hole for my feet and AirNZ takes the cake.

  6. AirNZ’s herringbone seats are indeed outdated (though pretty comfortable – at least on the 777s; the 789s are too squeezy).
    But while we’re talking about bedding, one area where AirNZ beats all other airlines is in a soft, comfortable and seamless sleeping surface, thanks to a combination of the properly flat, one piece flip-over seat design and the thick and soft mattress pad (compared to the thin and useless ones most airlines have). I flew true Polaris recently and the NZ bed is definitely more comfortable. NZ’s other bedding is nothing special, but the comfort of the bed overall is by far the best in business class, in my experience.

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