Air New Zealand Skynest: Economy Bunk Beds

Air New Zealand Skynest: Economy Bunk Beds

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Air New Zealand has just announced plans to install what will arguably be the biggest innovation we’ve ever seen in economy, even if only very few passengers will be able to enjoy this. While the airline announced that it was looking into this concept before the pandemic, color me surprised that this is actually happening. This development is in addition to Air New Zealand revealing its new business class product.

Air New Zealand’s Skynest economy beds

Air New Zealand has revealed plans to introduce bunk beds in economy — you read that right! With Air New Zealand’s new Skynest concept, there will be a total of six full length lie-flat sleep pods, which are in a “V” shape. That means there are three levels of bunk beds.

The beds will be 80″ long and 23″ wide, so they should be pretty comfortable for most passengers. There will of course be a limit of one person per bunk. The bunks will come with bedding, including pillows, sheets, blankets, and privacy curtains. Each bunk will also have a USB outlet, a reading light, and a storage pocket.

This is very similar to the bunks that airline crews have, so essentially Air New Zealand is making this concept available to passengers as well. That’s pretty cool.

Air New Zealand Skynest economy bunk beds
Air New Zealand Skynest economy bunk beds

Where will Air New Zealand Skynests be located?

Skynests will be installed on Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9s, so where will they be located? Well, they’ll be installed at the very front of the rear economy cabin. Specifically, they’ll take up the space of two center rows in economy, meaning that six bunks are being installed in the space that would otherwise be allocated to six economy class seats.

Air New Zealand’s new Boeing 787-9 seatmap

How will Air New Zealand sell economy beds?

These bunks can’t be occupied for takeoff and landing, so you can’t directly book one of these bunks for the entire flight. Rather the intent is that this will be offered as a buy-up for those traveling in economy or premium economy.

Passengers will be able to reserve the bunk beds for four hour periods. This means that on Air New Zealand’s longest flights, these could each be sold up to three times.

Pricing for Skynests remains to be seen. This will be an interesting experiment when it comes to pricing, as I’m curious how much the airline can get economy and premium economy travelers to shell out for a bit of time in a flat bed.

It’s pretty impressive that the opportunity cost of each Skynest is just one economy seat. To very briefly crunch the numbers:

  • Air New Zealand could sell this product up to three times on an ultra long haul flight
  • So in theory you’d think that the airline would want to charge at least one-third as much as an economy fare for this product
  • In reality the opportunity cost isn’t quite that large, because it’s rare that every single economy class seat would otherwise be occupied; of course this doesn’t account for the cost to develop and install this product
  • If I had to guess, I think it’ll cost somewhere around $300-400 for a four hour nap; I’m curious how many people in economy would pay that
Air New Zealand Skynest economy bunk beds

When is Air New Zealand introducing Skynest?

Air New Zealand will start completely reconfiguring its Boeing 787s as of 2024:

  • Air New Zealand Boeing 787s delivered as of 2024 will feature Skynests
  • Air New Zealand will retrofit existing Boeing 787s between 2024 and 2026, to add these
  • Air New Zealand won’t install Skynests on Boeing 777s

Unfortunately we’re still a couple years off from this becoming a reality. I would imagine that Air New Zealand will prioritize Skynests for its longest flights, to Chicago and New York.

Air New Zealand also has Skycouch

While the new Skynest is a huge innovation to economy class, it’s worth noting that Air New Zealand also came up with the Skycouch concept years ago. With this, a row of economy seats can essentially be turned into a couch. This is great for couples, or those traveling with families.

Air New Zealand Skycouch

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.

Bottom line

Air New Zealand will be introducing a concept we’ve never seen before in economy, with the introduction of Skynest bunk beds. The airline will be adding six bunk beds to Boeing 787s, with two sets of bunks stacked three high.

You can expect to start to see this product in 2024, and it’ll available on all Boeing 787s by 2026.

What do you make of Air New Zealand’s Skynest?

Conversations (31)
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  1. Henry Goldsmith Guest

    This just proves that everything old is new again! When I first flew across the Atlantic in 1954 (the flight was 17 hours) on TWA , they offered bunks 2 tiers on both sides of the single aisle super constellation. Those bunks were converted to regular seats by the cabin crew. They looked just like the Air NZ prototype.
    It's a good idea, but I don't think 4hours is enough. I think they should do some research on that.

  2. Steven E Guest

    @Airfarer - These are actually New Zealand Flight Attendants not Americans so it’s no problem when service is required

  3. Kate Guest

    Fantastic, Kiwi Ingenuity from the National Airline!
    I'm not sure about the practically of multiple users, changing bedding, and cleaning between sleep shifts during a flight but I am very interested to see how this develops.
    Any development to improve the flight experience without the prohibitive cost of a full upgrade is a good thing.

  4. Darren C Gold

    These look like the triple level bunks on overnight 2nd Class European trains that I have taken. If the price in cash/miles is reasonable, I would definitely pay.

  5. dander Guest

    So much unused space above the passenger seats on wide bodies. use that space also

  6. TravelCat2 Member

    It will be tricky timing the 4-hour sleep sessions with the rigid economy class meal service times.

  7. derek Guest

    This will be a good concept when aircraft also have a seat that makes you mostly stand. The seat would almost be like a bicycle seat. That will allow very high density. The bicycle seat passenger would then move to the bed for the flight until landing.

  8. KuBear Guest

    Hopefully your fellow bunkmates don't snore or fart.

  9. Jordan Member

    People scream for innovation on here, they get it, and pick it to pieces hahah.

    Give NZ credit. They truly have tried to make Y and PE travel better over the years. Better to try and fail, than to never try. I feel it will be a success, and if not, then they can convert it to seating or a lounge area for Y.

    They are offering regular Y, Y with more legroom, Skycouch, and this. 4 different types of seating options in Y alone...c'mon, that is something to applaud.

    1. Stuart Guest

      Innovation is only as good as practicality. And this is a ripe for the picking as a mess of issues. I can't wait to see and hear the drama that unfolds.

  10. 305 Guest

    Can't help but feel the idea is half-engineered to what its full potential could be. The middle bunk (if at proper height) could have a "reverse-Singapore business class bed" which converts the bunk into "jump seats" for taxi, takeoff, and landing. 3 of these on each side of the aisle and you just broke even on seating loss.

    As for storage space, why not have bins over the foot end of the bed? Even...

    Can't help but feel the idea is half-engineered to what its full potential could be. The middle bunk (if at proper height) could have a "reverse-Singapore business class bed" which converts the bunk into "jump seats" for taxi, takeoff, and landing. 3 of these on each side of the aisle and you just broke even on seating loss.

    As for storage space, why not have bins over the foot end of the bed? Even with those it would still be way more spacious than a J cabin footwell

  11. Hank Tarn Guest

    Economy getting the class leading innovation, must be the highest yielding cabin for Air NZ. New biz cabin looks very 2015 innovations, the only top standard bit is in limited supply at the front. Looks like they could not afford to do the whole biz cabin of the same quality. And at the prices they charge, it is not a great development.

  12. AA Guest

    If six of these take up the same space as six seats, then find a way to make/certify these as the damn seats for the whole flight and swap 50%, hell, make it 100% of the cabin out.
    If I could lay down on this, look at my ipad/drift/sleep and wake up at the other end of a long haul, I'm all for it, and I'd actively choose this simplicity over J.

    1. Bagoly Guest

      Yes - four hours is not enough to make me consider - but for the whole flight I'm on - just regard the flight as an opportunity to catch up on sleep.
      I have been wanting this, and thinking it could somehow be done in Economy, ever since I travelled "hard-sleeper" on Chinese trains in the 1980s - 20 * 3 horizontal benches.

      Perhaps the way to make this work (as Premium Economy) -...

      Yes - four hours is not enough to make me consider - but for the whole flight I'm on - just regard the flight as an opportunity to catch up on sleep.
      I have been wanting this, and thinking it could somehow be done in Economy, ever since I travelled "hard-sleeper" on Chinese trains in the 1980s - 20 * 3 horizontal benches.

      Perhaps the way to make this work (as Premium Economy) - to have standing spaces (with harnesses) for take off and landing - if made for only thirty minutes then they could actually be better for safety than seating - I am thinking evacuation quicker because passengers are already standing, and carry-on would be prohibited from those areas (if not overhead bins, leave it on your bed).
      If 6 beds take up space currently used for 6 seats then add the standing room for takeoff and landing at say 60% of the space for economy seating, and charge (as common now) 75% extra.

    2. Jordan Member

      If you look at the seat map, its more like 9 seats in reality, since they are taking some galley space.

    3. Clayton Guest

      That's never going to happen though. If you fly if J or F you can't even have your seat reclined during takeoff and landing. ( I don't know you so no idea if you've experienced such cabins to know the following...). There's a specific button on the controls to put said seat into the correct position for those parts of the flight and that's because you cannot get out your seat, on your feet and...

      That's never going to happen though. If you fly if J or F you can't even have your seat reclined during takeoff and landing. ( I don't know you so no idea if you've experienced such cabins to know the following...). There's a specific button on the controls to put said seat into the correct position for those parts of the flight and that's because you cannot get out your seat, on your feet and down the aisle quick enough from a reclined position let alone laying down. This isn't my opinion it's the scientifically proven data from countless attempts over the years to make such seats/ suites "evac compliant" . It's never come even remotely close.

      Now that's with one seat in one space. Let's add 3 of them into one vertical space. Who do you think dies 1st. The person on the top bunk who can't get out of it coz 2 other people are in the only space or the person in the bottom bunk who was knocked unconscious by the top bunk jumping down and landing on their head. Oh wait they're in a V shaped configuration so let's double that all up and have 6 people in a vertical space designed for 2.

      There's no point saying well they can go back to their normal seat either coz A. You've just suggested the entire cabin is designed this way and B. The thing about emergencies is that they can just happen and not allow you the luxury of going back to said seat if the cabin was your other suggestion of 50/50.

      Not to mention of course the fact that an "all bed economy config" is about as appealing to an airline as having razor blades pushed up your nether regions. If everyone can lay flat for $400 instead of $4000 how do you think they're going to sell those higher cabins which btw heavily subsidies the economy/ leisure fares in the 1st place.

  13. patrick Guest

    BTW... how does one get to the top bunk? I didn't see a ladder any where.

  14. Airfarer Gold

    Sounds OK on the surface but the devil is, as usual, in the details. The passenger attendants are going to change sheets and pillow cases when it's tough enough now to get them to bring you a glass of water? Does all sleep time begin together or do I get woken by some lug climbing into the top bunk. And some issues I dread to mention.

  15. Stuart Guest

    Oh this is going to be the center of all sorts of drama. The perfect fodder for bloggers. Expect sexual assault, perverts, fornicating couples, and all sorts of nasty hygiene issues. My prediction is the ANZ will come to its senses and never actually install them. Or, if they do, remove them within a month.

    1. JWags Guest

      How is this any more prime for sexual assault or perverts than a lay flat bed in business class?

      And I highly doubt they will be completely unmonitored to let a couple freely fornicate, especially with a single occupancy limit.

    2. Stuart Guest

      Have you looked at the layout? This is not business class, lol. It's more like Night trains in Europe in a shared compartment. And even they are now offering women only shared options.

    3. Bagoly Guest

      "now"
      That was standard in the distant past, although some operators may have relaxed the rule at some stage.

  16. Sam Guest

    I do appreciate the innovation & investment here, especially in economy. Change out the sheets & pillows. Maybe a quick wipe down. Get the airflow correct & adaptable. I would wipe down the hard surfaces for sure, even if the crew does so. If this is done correctly, I would book the upgrade & can see other long haul airlines copy cat this.

  17. Greg Guest

    Air NZ is a good “test bed” for this sort of thing as a boutique long haul operator. Curious to see what they learn in practice.

  18. RF Guest

    FAs will probably have to wake / kick out people who oversleep their time.

  19. RetiredATLATC Gold

    Like everything else on aircraft, these will not be cleaned and will become disgusting.

    I can also see disagreements, arguments and the occasional perv occur.

  20. Tennen Gold

    @Ben, did you post about this before? I could've sworn I'd read about this concept several months/years ago, even if it was speculation.

  21. NFSF Member

    Finger crossed you're not booked in with a snorer

  22. Esquiar Guest

    Very brave concept… not sure who wants to spend real money for the privilege of being woken up after three-ish hours shuteye, or who’d want to be the second person in an slept-in but not thoroughly cleaned bed.

    I wonder whether they’ll pivot to selling it for the full flight or at least half flight. Otherwise, I’d get better sleep in regular upright seat

    1. reddargon Diamond

      I imagine they will change the sheets on the bed between uses...

      I feel like there is definitely a market for this from people that don't want to shell out thousands extra for a business class seat but would like to get sleep in a flat bed for some of the flight. Air New Zealand has plenty of very long haul flights and I can definitely see this being popular.

    2. Andrew Diamond

      I'm betting twice per flight. For a 16 hour flight (minus 2 hours at each end), that sounds about right.

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Airfarer Gold

Sounds OK on the surface but the devil is, as usual, in the details. The passenger attendants are going to change sheets and pillow cases when it's tough enough now to get them to bring you a glass of water? Does all sleep time begin together or do I get woken by some lug climbing into the top bunk. And some issues I dread to mention.

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Jordan Member

People scream for innovation on here, they get it, and pick it to pieces hahah. Give NZ credit. They truly have tried to make Y and PE travel better over the years. Better to try and fail, than to never try. I feel it will be a success, and if not, then they can convert it to seating or a lounge area for Y. They are offering regular Y, Y with more legroom, Skycouch, and this. 4 different types of seating options in Y alone...c'mon, that is something to applaud.

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AA Guest

If six of these take up the same space as six seats, then find a way to make/certify these as the damn seats for the whole flight and swap 50%, hell, make it 100% of the cabin out. If I could lay down on this, look at my ipad/drift/sleep and wake up at the other end of a long haul, I'm all for it, and I'd actively choose this simplicity over J.

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