Air New Zealand to introduce bunk beds in economy

Air New Zealand to introduce bunk beds in economy
Economy bunk beds. Credit: Air New Zealand

The ability to sleep horizontally on long-haul flights has been the domain of those able to buy first-class or business tickets. But now, Air New Zealand is introducing a game changer to the travel industry as it announced last week that it will introduce  lie-flat "pods" on its economy flights from 2024.

Sleeping pods may be necessary as Air New Zealand will begin hosting nonstop flights from Auckland to New York. The 17-hour flight will be on the world's longest regularly scheduled flights, so the sleeping pods could be crucial for sleep deprived passengers.

An upgrade

Economy passengers won't be able to use the sleep pods for the duration of the whole flight, but can use them for four hours. The bedding will then be changed and the pods cleaned for half an hour in between sessions.

The idea is called "Skynest" and has been in the making for the last five years. It will likely include two rows of three stacked bunk beds for a total of six full-length sleeping pods. The beds will feature on the airlines' Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners together with regular seating arrangements.

Yet the pods aren't likely to be cheap. Air New Zealand hasn't yet confirmed the price, but the airline said that access to four hours on a sleep pod will cost an additional fee on top of the economy ticket.

Transportation Seth Kaplan told CNBC he was skeptical that economy passengers would go for it, as people paying the lowest rate for flights may not be interested in add-ons.

"The airline business is a real estate business," Kaplan said. "Air New Zealand will have to ask itself if those beds will bring in more money than economy or premium seats in the same space."

It is unclear that other airlines are racing to include bunk beds for their economy passengers. The future comfort of economy travelers may depend on the success of Air New Zealand's Skynest.

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