Air New Zealand unveiled its Economy Skynest, a concept that seeks to bring bunk beds to economy class. While no doubt innovative, is the product practical?
The new beds would be at least 200cm (~79 inches) long and 58cm (~23 inches) wide. Each Economy Skynest would contain six sleeping pods and includes full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, privacy curtains, and lighting designed for sleep.
Air New Zealand claims the source of the project was addressing tight space on longhaul flights. Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod said:
“We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft. A clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.”
Since these are stationary beds (very similar to crew rest beds), not seats that fold into beds, passengers will not be able to occupy these seats for the entirety of the flight. Instead, Air New Zealand plans to offer these in addition to an economy class seat, likely on a more limited basis.
I can imagine Air New Zealand selling these seats in hourly blocks, much like the sleep pods that are popping up at airports around the world.
Air New Zealand will make a final decision on whether to even offer the Economy Skynest next year after it has assessed the performance of its new Auckland-New York service, set to begin in October 2020. That means we won’t see a Skynest onboard an Air New Zealand flight until at least the end of 2021. In the meantime, however, Air New Zealand has filed a patent for its new product.
Its press release also hints that it wants to sell its new technology to other airlines:
“We expect other airlines will want to explore licensing the Economy Skynest from us just as they have with the Economy Skycouch.”
Is The Economy Skynest Practical?
I love the concept and I love how Air New Zealand is trying to address a real problem on longhaul flights. Traditionally, that solution has been called…business class…or at least premium economy class.
Based upon the video above, it appears these sleeping pods take up a fair amount of real estate. Certainly the concept allows for more beds than an expanded business class cabin in the same space, but I wonder if Air Zealand has considered selling “fractional” business class seats instead? Sell a lie-flat bed in a two-hour block and over the course of a longhaul flight you recoup the full cost (or more) of a business class seat?
It’s a bit premature to speculate, but I’m not convinced the economy (if you’ll pardon the pun) of space realistically allows for these Skynests onboard.
Kudos to Air New Zealand for thinking outside the box. I love the concept and under the right conditions, I can see the Economy Skynest as a viable product that, if priced correctly, will be a better hybrid between economy and business class than premium economy.
What are your thoughts on Air New Zealand’s new Economy Skynest?
photos: Air New Zealand