Air NZ: Bunk Beds for Economy?
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This will never happen, but it is an interesting research direction for Air New Zealand, and one they may well license to others. They have a history of experimentation (Skycouch -where three seats can be made into a wide bed) although some of the execution of their innovations has been questionable. Still hats off to them for their drive for innovation.
Bunk beds on a plane for economy passengers – what a dream, or an aeroplane obsessed kid’s double fantasy!
Here are some proposed facts and figures:
Three years in development, at Hanger 22, the Air NZ innovations centre in Auckland has culminated in the application for a patent and trademarks for this ‘SkyNest’ concept.
It’s important to note that this new product does not have certification yet, which will allow it to be installed on an actual aircraft.
Remote New Zealand
Air New Zealand is a relatively small airline, but it has very long routes (Auckland to New York is just shy of 18 hours) through to Europe and the Americas due to its remoteness. So a sleep product for economy passengers on long-haul does make some sense.
The Economy SkyNest provides full-length sleeping pods for six.
It’s yet to be certified and the airline won’t make a decision on whether to operate the berths until 2022 after it assesses the first year of its Auckland to New York flights.
“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,” Mr Tod says.Mike Tod, Air New Zealand Chief Marketing and Customer Officer
So how would this work in practice? Well, you would have an actual economy seat, and then additional rights to a bunk bed. Whether you would have access to this for the whole period of the flight, or would ‘rent’ it by the hour is not clear.
I am surprised they are targetting Economy passengers with this. I would have thought it would be a great addition to Premium Economy, where for a fee you could upgrade to access the SkyNest. Instead, they seem to be marketing it to the Economy passenger, as ‘Economy’ is part of the name.
I think that Air New Zealand might have something here, but on the other hand, if this was practical – why hasn’t someone else done it?
While I can see the advantages of this concept, I am surprised they are targetting Economy passengers and not Premium Economy. I can also see problems, not just with certifications and approval, but with practical considerations like cost, access, and servicing by staff.
Colour me sceptical on this innovation, but if it goes ahead, I think it will be a welcome innovation.