Air New Zealand announced a unique new bunk bed product for economy passengers in June, 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.
Air New Zealand is revolutionizing ultra-long-haul travel.
On September 17, the airline launched its first-ever flight between Auckland and New York-JFK, journeying over 17 hours between the two nations.
The historic inaugural flight is the world's new fourth-longest at 8,843 miles. Singapore Airlines now holds the fifth spot with its 8,576-mile route between Singapore and Los Angeles.
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.
Air New Zealand offers a few economy options in addition to its standard product, including premium recliners …
… and the Skycouch. The unique product is a row of three seats that can be converted into a daybed.
The space can be reserved for two or three people in the same party sharing the bed, or for one person. Single occupants won't share with a stranger.
On ANZ's website, a February 2023 ticket from Auckland to New York adds an additional $1,760 for one passenger in the Skycouch or $880 for two or three people.
Source: Air New Zealand
With Skycouch's popularity, the airline is continuing its cabin innovation with an all-new, one-of-a-kind product — Skynest.
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.
"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."
Source: Air New Zealand
The "world's first sleep pods in the sky" will debut on ANZ's eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners due to arrive in 2024.
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.
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.
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.
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.
According to ANZ, each bed is six feet and seven inches long, so most passengers should have plenty of room to stretch their legs.
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.
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.
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.
While most people touring the new product gravitated towards the middle bunks, I preferred the bottom because of the added privacy from the stairs.
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.
Despite some minor concerns, I though the beds were comfortable and spacious, proving to be a realistic sleep solution on long-haul journeys.
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.
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.
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.
ANZ head of aircraft programs Kerry Reeves told Insider that there is no price for the bed yet, but customer surveys revealed some want a "backpacker budget" of $200 for four hours, while others said the product is worth $800 for four hours.
However, he said $200 is too low and $800 is too high, but explained "we're going for a range that is somewhere in the middle." There will not be a price difference based on the bunk each passenger is assigned "at this stage," Reeves said.
The new sleeping arrangement will be located in economy class and replace five regular economy seats, Leaupepe told 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.
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.
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.
While ANZ will be the first to offer a bunk-style product on its aircraft, Reeves said other airlines — like Brazil-based Azul and China Airlines — have already taken interest in the airline's design, which they have a patent for.
Hopefully, ANZ's Skynest will be successful and comfortable, and more carriers will adopt the product to offer better rest options to economy passengers.
Read the original article on Business Insider