Wayfarer TV: Air New Zealand reveals latest plans for Skynest pods in economy, set to debut on flights to Chicago and New York

by James Wilkinson

Air New Zealand has revealed more details around its hot new economy ‘Skynest’ offering, the first ever sleep pods in the sky, set to debut on ultra-long-haul flights in September 2024.

The announcement was made at TRENZ – New Zealand’s largest international tourism business event – where a real-life Skynest experience was available for the first time.

The new Skynest was showcased last year on Wayfarer in an exclusive video interview with Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer, Leanne Geraghty, who said Skynest is going to be a real game changer, adding more flexibility to the economy travel experience.

“Our 83-year history is marked by a commitment to innovation and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,” she said. “Skynest is the latest example, and we’re proud to be leading the way with this world-first cabin feature.

“Skynest has captured the imagination of a global audience and its uniqueness has already been acknowledged by multiple awards – the latest being a finalist in the Crystal Cabin Awards.

“We’re delighted that customers are as excited about this new innovation as we are. Our extensive research and design process, which spanned five years and 170,000 hours, has resulted in a product that we’re confident will revolutionise the in-flight experience for Economy passengers,” she said.

The Skynest will be a key feature on Air New Zealand’s ultra-long haul flights to the United States and will undoubtedly be a massive winner for the carrier.

“We’re delighted to announce that our innovative Economy Skynest will be launching on ultra-long haul flights, starting with the popular Auckland – New York and Auckland – Chicago routes,” Geraghty said.

“North America is the perfect market for Skynest, as it has a premium segment that values comfort and sleep during long-haul travel.

“With our ultra-long haul routes to destinations such as New York and Chicago, Skynest provides a unique and innovative way for our passengers to rest and recharge, making their journey with us even more enjoyable.

“By launching Skynest on these routes, we are bringing to life our commitment to providing choice, alongside the best possible experience for our passengers, and to continue to innovate and lead the way in the aviation industry.”

Geraghty also revealed Skynest will be designed and installed in New Zealand.

“As a proudly New Zealand company, we’re delighted to announce that Skynest will be designed and installed right here in Aotearoa,” she said.

“While our overall 787 refit will occur offshore in the best Boeing facilities, our best engineers and designers will develop Skynest in New Zealand, using the latest in cutting-edge technology and design.”

The Skynest will be a six-pod configured sleep zone that offers sessions for economy passengers to lie down when travelling long haul.

Each pod will include a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, a separate reading light, personal device USB outlet, ventilation outlet, and lighting designed for rest.

Each passenger will be limited to one session, with families travelling on the same ticket able to book a session for each passenger, pending availability.

Geraghty says Skynest provides economy passengers another opportunity to lie flat and rest during longer flights.

The Skynest will be located between Premium Economy and Economy, and each pod will come with a separate seatbelt to ensure passengers can fasten them and stay in the pod should the seat belt sign come on during turbulence. The bedding will be changed between each session, and a 30-minute transition time will be allowed for this.

The lights will gently come on at the end of each session, and crew will politely wake any passengers who sleep through this.

“We’re still working through the exact details of how the booking process will work, and we have yet to determine the price. At this stage are looking at around NZ$400 to NZ$600 for the 4-hour period,” Geraghty said.