AIR NEW ZEALAND: Would you pay for a lie-down in a bunk on long-haul?
In 2024, when Air New Zealand (Air NZ) takes delivery of some brand new Boeing 787s, and flies them between Auckland and New York and Auckland and Chicago, you will also get the choice of booking a four hours sleep in some ‘Skynest’ bunk beds 36,000 feet in the air.
‘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.’Leanne Gehaghty, Chief Customer and Sales Officer
Air NZ is launching all new cabins on the Boeing 787-9 aircraft which will have either eight or four Business Premier Luxe seats (with closing door) plus 42 or 22 Business Premier seats (without the door) and either 52 or 33 Premium Economy and 125 or 213 economy seats.
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You can occupy one of the six berths, manufactured in New Zealand and positioned in-between premium and economy cabins. But you will only be able to book a four-hour sleep once per flight, and that bit of shut-eye will cost you between AU$400 and AU$600 for each ‘sleep session’. The cost and other booking arrangements have not been totally finalised by Air NZ, but for that fee, you will get a full-size pillow, sheets and blanket, ear plugs, a reading light, a USB outlet, an air vent, and ‘rest’ lighting. You will also get fairly intimate with your other five neighbors occupying the triple-stacked births, with only a partial divider between you.
At the end of your allotted time, the lights in your Skynest will slowly fade up, hopefully prompting you to wake. If not, cabin staff will step in to wake you and change the bedding in preparation for the next sleeping customer.
Air NZ is hailing this concept as a game-changer for those in Economy and Premium Economy without the flat bed seats of Business. I’m not so sure. Why, because if I have less than five hours of sleep, I’m pretty grumpy. I’m also not sure how many cost-conscious Economy passengers will want to pay another 30% of their fare (of around ~AU$2,500) again for a four-hour rest. If you are in Premium, paying close to AU$5,000 for your return USA trip, then another AU$1,000 (2 x 4 hours sleeps, one each way @ ~AU$500) doesn’t seem so much, especially when a Business Class seat on Air NZ is going to cost your north of AU$11,000.
Who would be willing to pay about AU$500 for four hours of sleep on a 16-hour flight between Auckland and the USA?