Air New Zealand has unveiled a ground-breaking new lie-flat prototype sleep product – and this time it is not for the front of the plane. The new comfort design belongs to economy class travelers who may want the chance to rest, relax and sleep rather than spend double digit hours cramped within a space for a that might be better suited to a basset hound.

The Economy Skynest is the result of three years of Air New Zealand research and development, with the input of more than 200 customers at its Hangar 22 innovation center in Auckland. The airline has today filed patent and trademark applications for the Economy Skynest, which provides six full length lie-flat sleep pods.  

Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod says that as the airline operates some of the world's longest flights, such as the upcoming Auckland-New York service at up to 17 hours 40 minutes one way, it is committed to putting more magic back into flying.

"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,” he noted.

Air New Zealand will make a final decision on whether to operate the Economy Skynest next year after it has assessed the performance of its inaugural year of Auckland-New York operations.

"We see a future flying experience where an economy-class customer on long-haul flights would be able to book the Economy Skynest in addition to their Economy seat, get some quality rest and arrive at their destination ready to go. This is a game changer on so many levels," said Nikki Goodman, Air New Zealand’s General Manager of Customer Experience. "This is one of the highlights of three years' intensive work centered on customer wellbeing. We're sure this innovation is going to be a game changer for the industry and bring significant improvements to long-haul flying.  We expect other airlines will want to explore licensing the Economy Skynest from us just as they have with the Economy Skycouch."

Air New Zealand's Head of Airline Programs Kerry Reeves says “can do” is one of the airline's key values and the Economy Skynest prototype is a tangible example of this.

"The question is never 'can we do this' but instead 'is it right to do this for our customers?' and, if so, 'how will we do this? Our ability to take a good idea, to execute and deliver an innovation that works in our environment, our market and for our people and customers gives us an edge," he added.

Reeves emphaszied the scale of the challenge in developing the Economy Skynest and working through its certification with the necessary regulators is immense compared with the development of the Economy Skycouch.

"But it was a prize worth chasing and one that we think has the potential to be a game changer for economy class travelers on all airlines around the world."

Air New Zealand Economy Skynest specs

Where will the Economy Skynest be placed within the aircraft?

The exact positioning of the Economy Skynest within the aircraft has still to be confirmed, however, it will be in the Economy cabin.

How many beds will the Economy Skynest accommodate?

Each Economy Skynest can accommodate six sleeping pods

Overall length of the sleeping pods?

In excess of 200cm

Width at the shoulder area?

In excess of 58cm

What's included with the Economy Skynest?

It is intended that each pod will include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs along with privacy curtains and lighting designed for sleep. We are exploring other features such as separate reading light, personal device USB outlet and ventilation outlet. (*all specifications are subject to change)