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Air New Zealand unveils sleep pods for passengers in coach

Being cooped up in coach on a long-haul flight is never any fun, but Air New Zealand is planning to make things a little easier for its economy passengers.

The carrier wants to offer lie-flat sleep pods for travelers on its longest flights, including its new 17-hour and 40-minute route between Auckland and New York City that launches next year.

An Air New Zealand jet offering the Economy Skynest service would feature six of the sleep pods. Each one will be around 200cm long and 58cm wide, and include bedding and possibly a charging port and reading light. A curtain would also enable some privacy should you want to get a spot of shut-eye during the long flight … or avoid eye contact with envious passengers walking by.

But it seems that you won’t be able to stay in the pod for the entire flight. According to the Guardian, if you want to use a Skynest sleep pod, you’ll have to book a time slot (fresh bedding will be put out for each passenger), with the rest of the flight spent in your seat. The length of the time slot is yet to be revealed.

Whether Air New Zealand can introduce its proposed Economy Skynest service depends largely on whether regulators give the design the green light.

Air New Zealand sleep pod
Air New Zealand

Commenting on the plan, Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer Mike Tod said: ”A clear pain point for economy travelers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.”

Nikki Goodman, the carrier’s general manager of customer experience, said Air New Zealand is aiming for a 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.”

Goodman described the service as “a game changer for the industry [that will] bring significant improvements to long-haul flying.”

If the concept becomes a reality and proves popular with passengers, Air New Zealand said it may even license the design to other airlines.

The all-important cost of a sleep pod is yet to be revealed, but we can certainly imagine the relaxing spaces being a hit with passengers keen for a break from their coach seat. Downsides? We can’t think of many, though the biggest challenge may be persuading yourself to leave the pod at the end of your time slot.

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