Putting more magic back into flying

By | Category: Travel news

Almost a year ago, Just about Travel ran a story about flatbeds being made available in economy class. Then the story was about Thomas Cook which had decided to introduce a flat beds across rows of seats.

Air New Zealand’s Sky Nest prototype. Image – Air New Zealand

That came to naught for the obvious reason that Thomas Cook went bust.

Now another airline has come up with a similar idea.

Air New Zealand has developed what it calls Economy Skynest. and has filed patent and trademark applications for the Economy Skynest which provides six full length lie-flat sleep pods.   

The airline’s Mike Tod says that as the airline operates some of the world’s longest flights, such as the upcoming Auckland-New York service at up to 17 hours 40 minutes one way, it is committed to putting more magic back into flying.

But lest passengers get to excited, Air NZ won’t make a final decision on whether to operate the Economy Skynest next year after it has assessed the performance of its inaugural year of Auckland-New York operations.

The big problem for airlines is that flatbeds take up space that could be used for more seats. That’s fine when First and business class passengers are paying a substantial premium for that space but economy passengers can be very price-conscious.

Will the airline be able to charge a low enough price for the Economy Skynest to attract passengers but still make a profit on the space being used? Only they know the answer.

The Thomas Cook concept was to create something across a row of three seats.

Air New Zealand’s idea is not to adapt a seat but to create almost a train- sleeping car bunk system where passengers can shut themselves off from the rest of the passengers and get a good rest. It isn’t dissimilar to the pod idea that can be seen at some Far Eastern airports allowing for passengers to sleep at the airport.

But having only six “beds” per flight suggests that prices will be high because demand will probably be high as well.

I, as a regular long-haul flyer, hope that Air New Zealand implements the idea and that other airlines follow their example.

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