Air New Zealand brings lie-flat beds to Economy

ALong asleep in the company’s mind, ir New Zealand develops creative solutions to help its passengers find a sense of calm and peace on ultra-long-haul flights (up to 18 hours from the United States). The Auckland-based airline first launched the Skycouch – three economy seats side-by-side with footrests that pull up to form a ‘couch’ 2011, Change the travel game for families with young children (or solo travelers who just wanted to pay for more space).

Today, Air New Zealand unveils its latest innovation: the world’s first lay-flat sleeper capsules in economy class, or the Skynest, due to debut in 2024 on the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Doesn’t look that different from flight attendants’ bunk beds On longer flights (or rooms in pod hotels), the six Skynest beds allow you to recline almost the entire flight. (You still need to book a regular seat to ensure your safety during takeoff, landing or during times of turbulence.)

The prototype was first presented in 2020, around the time a new direct flight from Auckland to New York was to be introduced. Due to border closures during the pandemic, both have been thrown back; The non-stop flight from New York – a nearly 18-hour flight – is now scheduled to depart on September 17, followed by a route from Chicago to Auckland in October.

It took five years – or 170,000 hours at Boeing and Air New Zealand – to design these so-called nests, inspired by one of New Zealand’s native birds, the tūī, using sustainable materials such as fabric rather than leather and softer pillows, NASA cooling pillows and bedding. Air New Zealand is also eliminating 28 million plastic dishes from its annual economy meal service on board to reduce its carbon emissions.

Though many companies pay lip service to sustainability (it’s not just about plastic straws, folks), Air New Zealand is taking these changes to heart. It has an almost entirely local crew with a corporate culture that adheres to the “Tiaki Promise, a commitment to care for New Zealand, to act as guardians, to protect and preserve our home”. The pledge is reflected in its message, with a statement asking travelers to sign before arrival, even on its security video.

“We want to create the best flying experience in the world,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Air New Zealand, in a recent interview. It ranges from the flight experience to the efficiency of the app – and of course how well you sleep on that long-haul flight.

“Research has shown that the first night away from home is the most difficult to get a good night’s sleep. As such, everything we do on board is designed to help create a sense of calm – from the lighting and sleep ritual, including sleepy teas and balms, to healthier food choices and breathable fabrics,” said Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty in a statement. “Meditative screen content, zentertainment, will also help customers relax and prepare for recovery.”

In the new Business Premier Luxe, passengers can close the door and turn a blind eye.

Economy isn’t the only part of the aircraft Air New Zealand loves. These are the cabin categories for the new and retrofit Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners joining the Air New Zealand fleet in 2024:

  • Business Premier Luxe: Sleeping area with fully closing door and dining space for two
  • Economy Minister: A private nest for long-distance travelers. Passengers flying together can open their nest and share their space.
  • Premium economy: According to Air New Zealand, this seating option allows more privacy and protected space where you can recline as you wish without disturbing the person behind.
  • Economy Skynest: Low-profile sleeping pods available for economy travelers
  • Economy Skycouch: Have this optionI’m gone.
  • Economy route: A roomier economy seat
  • Economy seat: Even the standard economy seat gets a small upgrade with extra storage, space, and a larger screen in the seatback (which you can see on pAir with your device via Bluetooth).

The aircraft will also feature a sky pantry where economy flyers can stretch out at will and grab a snack or drink.

Let it be known that I slept eight straight hours on an Air New Zealand flight from Houston to Auckland — despite being a sleep-deprived parent of young children. Check it out for yourself when the Skynest debuts; pricing is yet to be determined.

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