Wayfarer TV: Air New Zealand unveils brilliant new cabin products, headlined by flatbed pods in economy

by James Wilkinson

Air New Zealand has pulled back the curtain on the carrier’s game-changing new cabins aboard the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which includes a fantastic Business Premier Luxe suite and the first ever sleep pods in the sky for Economy travellers. James Wilkinson reports from Auckland.

The new cabins will take flight in 2024 on the carrier’s longest routes to cities like Chicago, Houston and New York aboard new, ultra-premium configured Boeing 787-9s, where it’s all about comfort from nose to tail.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran, says the new cabins are part of the airline’s ambition to “create the greatest flying experience” and when coupled with “world-leading Kiwi hospitality, is the winning formula”.

“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long haul travel experience,” he says.

“We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested.

“Whether they are heading straight into a meeting, or to their first holiday hotspot – they want to hit the ground running.

“It’s a proud moment to finally unveil five years of hard mahi, in what truly is a cabin of possibility.

“One that will provide customers with options to get some shut eye wherever they’re sitting,” he says.

Headlining the new onboard offering is the ‘Skynest’, first announced in 2020, which is the first ever sleeper pods for travellers in economy class.

“We wanted to offer our Economy customers a lie-flat option and that’s how Skynest was born,” Foran says.

“It’s going to be a real game changer for the economy travel experience.”

At the front of the aircraft, Air New Zealand has completely revamped business class, led by a new ‘Business Premier Luxe’ suite product in the front row that comes complete with a fully closing door and space for two to dine.

The remainder of the ‘Business Premier’ cabin includes seats with privacy screens, longer flatbeds than what’s currently on offer, alongside larger TVs and several private storage compartments.

Behind that is a new Premium Economy cabin, which features spacious seats that recline inwards and don’t lean-in on the person in the row behind. Premium is one of Air New Zealand’s value products and the new seat offering is comfortable, spacious and stylish.

In Economy, Air New Zealand has revamped the current product with larger screens, kept the popular Skycouch – where guests can spread out, or lie down and snooze – and added a new ‘Stretch’ extended legroom offering.

Then there’s the Skynest, the game-changing sleeper pods for travellers in Economy class. These two sets of bunks (6 beds all-up) can be booked for up to four hours and are located in a secret compartment at the front of the economy cabin.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Customer and Sales Officer, Leanne Geraghty, says the carrier will offer the most choice of any airline in its three cabins to get the best sleep in the sky.

“Whether we are welcoming visitors or flying New Zealanders home, we want our customers to experience Aotearoa from the moment they step onboard – and get the best night’s rest,” she says.

“Research shows us the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night’s sleep so everything we do onboard is to help create a sense of calm – from the lighting and sleep ritual including sleepy teas and balms, to the healthier food choices and breathable fabrics.

“Meditative onscreen content, Zentertainment, will also help customers unwind and get ready for rest.”

Geraghty says the airline has also added a Sky Pantry to the Premium Economy and Economy cabins, so customers can stretch their legs, grab a bite to eat and hydrate at their leisure throughout their journey.

“Our new cabin experience is set to be world class, and we know our customers will love it,” she says.

Geraghty says the cabin’s interior design is inspired by the uniqueness of Aotearoa, from the forest inspired carpet to the seats that draw inspiration from New Zealand’s native bird, the Tui.

The first of the new long-haul Dreamliners is due to enter service in 2024.