Air New Zealand unveils sleep pods as part of major cabin makeover for economy passengers

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Geoffrey ThomasThe West Australian
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VideoAir New Zealand's economy sleep pods.

Air New Zealand has unveiled a major, and industry-leading revamp, of its Boeing 787 cabins to tap the growing market for premium beds and seats on long-haul flights.

Among the suite of offerings is a unique Skynest, the world’s first sleep pods for economy travellers.

The upgrade has been five years in the making and focuses on giving passengers the best chance of a good night’s sleep no matter what class they choose.

The airline said that extensive customer research had highlighted the importance of a good night’s sleep and the need for more space and comfort.

Air New Zealand chief executive Greg Foran said the airline’s ambition was to create the greatest flying experience. He said the new cabin, combined with world-leading Kiwi hospitality, was the winning formula.

“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long-haul travel experience,” Mr Foran said.

Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran with the airline's chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty in Business Premier Lux.
Camera IconAir New Zealand CEO Greg Foran with the airline's chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty in Business Premier Lux. Credit: Credit Air New Zealand

“We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested. Whether they are heading straight into a meeting, or to their first holiday hotspot – they want to hit the ground running.

“It’s a proud moment to finally unveil five years of hard work, in what truly is a cabin of possibility. One that will provide customers with options to get some shut-eye wherever they’re sitting.

“With a project like this, there is a tremendous amount of research and design work.

“All told 170,000 hours of effort as gone into this work from the Air New Zealand team which has worked with a range of suppliers to come up with a suite of products that I think are world first in many cases.”

And as opposed to front-end luxury, the beds will be located at the back of the plane, Mr Foran said.

“That is an important part of any plane. You just don’t sell what is happening up the front of the plane,” he said.

“Down in economy you are going to have this product called Skynest where you have the ability to rent a lie-flat bed for a period of time and it’s going to be pretty compelling to a lot of customers.

“For a little bit extra I am happy to fly down the back as long as I know I can get a few hours’ sleep.”

The Air New Zealand 787 cabin is divided into seven products or sub-products.

At the front end, the airline has two business class products based on a new suite. There is the standard offering plus the same product with sliding doors and a little more space — carrying the name Business Premier Lux.

The new Business Premier is a major move away from the existing product which suffered slightly from a lack of work and storage room for laptops.

Leading the economy section is the airline’s new premium economy which is another step forward from its existing product which is the industry’s best. The new seats have more privacy and protected space and can recline at leisure without interrupting the person behind.

In economy proper, there are three distinct choices.

The airline’s award-winning Skycouch is retained and expanded with up to 12 triple sets (36 seats) and is perfect for couples or parents with children.

Air New Zealand has added an economy stretch zone with up to 10cm more leg room and there are up to 36 of these seats.

However, even the humble economy seat is in for a makeover with more storage, comfort and space and a 50 per cent bigger screen for entertainment.

The eight 787-9 Dreamliner arriving from 2024 and retrofitted current 787-9 fleet will have either eight or four Business Premier Luxe seats, 42 or 22 Business Premier, 52 or 33 premium economy, 125 or 213 economy seats, and specifically on the ultra-long-haul aircraft, six Skynest sleep pods.

More details and pictures in Travel inside Saturday’s The West Australian

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