I tried Air New Zealand's 'Skynest' and think the cozy bunk bed will be a great sleep option for economy passengers as the carrier continues its long-haul growth

I tried Air New Zealand's 'Skynest' and think the cozy bunk bed will be a great sleep option for economy passengers as the carrier continues its long-haul growth
  • Air New Zealand announced a unique new bunk bed product for economy passengers in June 2022, known as Skynest.

  • The six-bed sleeping pod will offer travelers a privacy curtain, USB ports, and bed linens.

  • I tried the one-of-a-kind product in Auckland and loved the cozy bed. Here's a closer look.

Buoyed by strong demand and overall lower fuel costs later in the year, Air New Zealand secured an impressive $3.8 billion in operating revenue for the 2023 financial year.

A Boeing 787 with Air New Zealand's branding in front of a blue sky with clouds.
Air New Zealand 787.Shutterstock

Source: Simple Flying

Despite some challenging market headwinds going into 2024, ANZ's August 2023 Investor Update shows continued strength as it boosts long-haul capacity.

Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
An Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.Stephen Brashear/Getty

Source: Simple Flying, ANZ

And, with the long-haul growth will soon come a revolutionary new cabin product.

Air New Zealand Skynest and Ascent First Class Suite.
Air New Zealand Skynest and Ascent First Class Suite.Air New Zealand, Adient Aerospace

On September 17, 2022, ANZ launched its first-ever flight between Auckland and New York-JFK, journeying over 17 hours between the two nations.

Flying Air New Zealand in business class.
Taylor Rains/Insider

The historic inaugural flight became the world's new fourth-longest at 8,828 miles. Singapore Airlines now holds the fifth spot with its 8,576-mile route between Singapore and Los Angeles.

A Singapore Airlines A350-900 being taxied across a runway.
Singapore Airlines A350-900.KITTIKUN YOKSAP/Shutterstock

The 10 longest routes in the world flown by airlines, ranked by distance

While some deep-pocket travelers can fork out thousands of dollars for business class — which has lay-flat loungers and premium meals that would make the journey bearable — most people will opt for economy.

The lie-flat beds in Air New Zealand's business class cabin.
Taylor Rains/Insider

I flew on the world's new 4th longest flight from New York to Auckland and Air New Zealand's business class made the over 17-hour journey easily bearable

Air New Zealand offers a few economy options in addition to its standard product, including premium recliners …

Flying Air New Zealand in business class.
Taylor Rains/Insider

… and the Skycouch. The unique option is a row of three seats that can be converted into a daybed for up to three people. Single occupants won't share with a stranger.

Air New Zealand skycouch.
Air New Zealand

With Skycouch's popularity, the airline is continuing its economy cabin innovation with an all-new, one-of-a-kind product — Skynest.

Each ultra-long haul flight will have a “Skynest’  consisting of six sleep pods, akin to bunk beds.
Air New Zealand

Building upon Skycouch, Skynest is a set of stacked bunk beds that can accommodate up to six people. The outside-the-box product is intended to offer passengers a sleep option, especially on long-haul journeys, that doesn't break the bank.

The Skynest stairs.
Taylor Rains/Insider

"New Zealand's location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long-haul travel experience," ANZ CEO Greg Foran said in a press release. "We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested."

Flying Air New Zealand in business class.
Air New Zealand 787-9 economy class.Taylor Rains/

Source: Air New Zealand

The "world's first sleep pods in the sky" in economy will debut on ANZ's eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners due to arrive in 2024.

Flying Air New Zealand in business class.
Taylor Rains/Insider

A full-scale model of Skynest is at the airline's cabin innovation center in Auckland, known as Hangar 22. I tried out the bed to see if it lives up to the hype — take a look.

Laying on Air New Zealand's Skynest.
The author trying out a Skynest demonstrator.Taylor Rains/Insider

My first impression of the Skynest was how compact it looked from the outside. I couldn't imagine each bunk would be roomy enough to get good rest, but after trying the beds, I was proven wrong.

Air New Zealand's Skynest viewed from the outside.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Being only 5'3" tall, I easily climbed into the middle bunk and laid down with plenty of space to spare at my head and feet.

Lying in one of the Skynest bunks.
Taylor Rains/Insider

I thought some of the taller media personnel also touring the Skynest would complain about space, but even they were surprised about how big the pods felt once inside.

Top bunk of the Skynest.
Taylor Rains/Insider

According to ANZ, each bed is six feet and seven inches long, so most passengers should have plenty of room to stretch their legs.

Air New Zealand's Skynest bed.
Taylor Rains/Insider

The beds come with a few amenities, including USB ports, linens, storage, a seatbelt, and an eye mask. However, there will not be a TV screen.

Air New Zealand's Skynest pillow and eyemask.
Taylor Rains/Insider

There is also a mesh curtain installed at each bunk, which ensures there is not more than one person using the bed, Louise Leaupepe, ANZ's future aircraft cabin experience program manager told Insider.

The curtain on the Skynest.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Flight attendants will also check the pods during their positioning walkthroughs, which occur every 20 minutes, to ensure only those with a Skynest ticket are using the beds, according to Leaupepe.

Air New Zealand Skynest with a flight attendant wearing purple and black looking inside.
The crew will change the bedding between each booking.Air New Zealand

While most people touring the new product gravitated towards the middle bunks, I preferred the bottom because of the added privacy from the stairs.

ANZ bottom bunk.
Taylor Rains/Insider

However, I think the top bunks could pose some risks as travelers could lose their footing trying to climb up or down, especially during turbulence. Leaupepe said that no one will be in the Skynest for takeoff, taxi, or landing.

Me sitting on the top bunk of the Skynest.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Despite some minor concerns, I though the beds were comfortable and spacious, proving to be a realistic sleep solution on long-haul journeys.

Skynest bottom bunk and stairs to the right of it.
Taylor Rains/Insider

While they do remind me of a hostel dorm, the curtains and walls provide privacy so it doesn't feel like you're sleeping right next to a bunch of strangers.

Right three bunks of the Skynest.
Taylor Rains/Insider

I also liked the pink lighting, though Leaupepe told Insider they are still developing the colors. According to an ANZ spokesperson, the pods will have "ambient lighting" that customers can turn on or off.

The remote that let us change the lighting in the pod.
We could use this remote to change the lighting in the pod to colors like red, blue, and green.Taylor Rains/Insider

Moreover, they are working to "tie the aircraft lighting so that when there is a lighting scene change, the suite lights will very subtly change to reflect the cabin lighting," per ANZ.

A view across the rows of seats and TV screens in the cabin.
Pink lighting in an ANZ Boeing 787.Taylor Rains/Insider

The new sleeping arrangement will be located in economy class and replace five regular economy seats, Leaupepe told Insider.

Air New Zealand's economy class view from the side.
ANZ's economy class section.Taylor Rains/Insider

Specifically, the Skynest will be situated at door three, a large entrance space between the two economy sections on ANZ's Boeing 787-9.

Air New Zealand Boeing 787 door 3 on left side of plane.
Taylor Rains/Insider

This "sweet spot" maximizes the space to make the placement of the bunks operationally efficient, Reeves explained. Only one set of six pods will be on each plane.

View from door 3 on left side of Air New Zealand 787.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Source: SeatGuru

Moreover, the pods will have age restrictions so younger kids don't climb on the beds or make a lot of noise while others are trying to sleep, Leaupepe told Insider.

ANZ Skynest pillow, eye mask, and storage space.
Taylor Rains/Insider

While the company has still yet to decide how the Skynest will be priced, it said in May that it is "looking at around $400 to $600" for a four-hour period.

Handle of the Skynest.
Each bunk has a handle.Taylor Rains/Insider

While ANZ will be the first to offer a bunk-style economy product on its aircraft, a spokesperson told Insider that other carriers — like Azul Brazilian Airlines — have already welcomed their own version of ANZ's patented Skycouch.

A view across two rows of Skycouches across a Azul Brazilian Airlines flight.
Azul Brazilian Airlines economy Skycouch.Azul Brazilian Airlines

Hopefully, ANZ's Skynest will be successful and comfortable, and more carriers will adopt the product to offer better rest options to economy passengers.

The Skynest stairs.
Taylor Rains/Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider