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Sleep pods are coming for passengers flying economy

Economy passengers who break into a cold sweat at the mere thought of a long-haul flight will be delighted to learn that things are finally changing.

Air New Zealand confirmed this week that it will be launching its first “Skynest” sleep pods with the new Dreamliner jets joining its fleet in 2024.

“It’s time to swap the headrest for some bed rest,” the Kiwi carrier said in a tweet that included images (below) of the new economy-class sleep pods for flights to the U.S. and Europe.

Unveiled by the airline a couple of years ago, the sleep pods will be around 79 inches (200 centimeters) long and 31 inches (58 centimeters) wide and come with bedding, a charging port, and a reading light. A privacy curtain is also part of the design. To make way for a set of six pods, the airline has removed five economy seats on its incoming Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

The drawback — yes, this is economy, so there has to be at least one — is that you won’t be able to use a Skynest pod for the entirety of a long-haul flight. Instead, you’ll be limited to a four-hour slot, with only one slot available per passenger per flight. The additional cost — another drawback — has yet to be announced.

Air New Zealand said that feedback from customers had “highlighted the importance for a good night’s sleep and the need for more space and comfort,” leading it to come up with the design for the sleep pods.

Commenting on the new feature, Greg Foran, the carrier’s CEO, said: “New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultra-long-haul travel experience. We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested.”

Foran added: “Whether they are heading straight into a meeting, or to their first holiday hotspot, they want to hit the ground running. We wanted to offer our economy customers a lie-flat option and that’s how Skynest was born. It’s going to be a real game changer for the economy travel experience.”

Even if it’s only for four hours, a nap in a sleep pod will surely go some way to relieving the stress of being cooped up in coach during a very long flight.

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