I was so pleasantly surprised to learn that Air New Zealand will be introducing actual beds for economy passengers in 2024. Lie-down beds are usually just reserved for Business or First Class flight passengers. But there’s a glaring catch I learned about the economy beds themselves.
The economy sleeping bunks are called Skynest—and they will first be introduced in 2024 on non-stop flights to New York and Chicago. It will take the shape of a tight corner with three bunk beds on either side. Each of the beds is approximately 203cm long, and approximately 58.4cm wide. It’s “strictly for one passenger at a time”.
“As we did the research we knew what customers wanted at the front, but we also knew there was an opportunity to do something different down the back, and that’s why the Skynest product is so critical, so you can have a lie-down and get a proper sleep if you are doing a long flight…and a lot of flights from New Zealand are long!” said Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran.
But here’s the catch…
The Skynest bunk beds aren’t actually available for every economy passenger—they would be available for advance booking by premium economy and economy passengers. And each bunk will only be reserved in four-hour blocks, so even if you book them in advanced, you won’t get to use the bed for the entire long-haul flight.
According to Executive Traveller, the four hours you get on the bed is equivalent to two sleep cycles (which are typically about 90 minutes). After your sleep session, there will be a half-hour cleaning period when the cabin crew will remove and refresh the mattress, pillows, and blankets while also wiping down the interior of the pod. The beds also can’t be occupied during the take-off or landing stages of the flight.
Additionally, Executive Traveller notes that the bunks themselves will be best suited to passengers of slim-to-average dimensions (or children). There’s a “definite squeeze around the shoulders and elbows, with limited space for side-sleepers” so larger sized passengers are advised to just stay in their seats.
However, having this option for economy passengers is better than having to just opt for the upright seats—which are very uncomfortable on long-haul flights. Each pod is also able to store personal items plus a USB charging socket and reading lamp.
Another innovation for economy class flights is Alejandro Núñez Vicente’s 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards entry—a dual-level seat cabin with each row alternating between on-floor seating, and seats elevated a few feet above the ground. The concept looks shockingly claustrophobic and you might need to brace yourself for farts, foot smells, and all other sorts of weird uncomfortable scents.
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