Three years ago, the New Zealand airline Air New Zealand presented its so-called “Skynest”, and now the concept is to be implemented. Passengers should be able to book the sleeping cabins as early as September 2024 – including in Economy Class.

So-called sleeping pods are also becoming increasingly popular in big city hotels – because space is usually scarce there and the pods are becoming a cheaper alternative to the classic hotel room. Such cabins do not offer much space, but enough for sleeping. The same principle applies to Air New Zealand’s “Skynest”.

According to Air New Zealand, the purple-lit sleeping cabins offer a bunk bed – including bed linen, which is changed by the cabin crew at every interval. Each pod has a privacy curtain, vent port, reading light, and USB charging ports for electronic devices.

The cabins can be booked not only by business class passengers, but also for economy class tickets. This makes Air New Zealand a real pioneer in the field, as it is the first airline to offer the corresponding level of comfort when sleeping in cheaper travel classes.

But there is one catch: the sleeping cabins can only be booked for a period of four hours. Passengers are also only allowed to use one slot per flight so that several people can enjoy the sleep session. Four hours of sleep may not be enough for some. Leanne Geraghty, Air New Zealand’s chief costumer, defends the approach with an argument from sleep research: Within four hours, passengers could go through two REM (rapid eye movement) cycles, each lasting about 90 minutes, she told Washington Post Office.

The end of the sleep phase is signaled to the passengers with a light. According to Air New Zealand, those who do not wake up will be woken up by the flight crew.

The “Skynest” concept will be used in the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners – initially on the long-haul routes from Auckland to New York and from Auckland to Chicago. “North America is the perfect market for Skynest,” says Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty. Because on long-haul flights like these, comfort and sleep are particularly valued, according to the statement.

No wonder – because flights from New Zealand take particularly long due to the country’s isolated location. The connection from Auckland to New York is one of the longest non-stop flights that can be booked at over 17 flight hours. (Singapore vs. New York is currently number 1.)

The Australian airline Qantas also wants to revolutionize the world of long-haul flights from 2025 – with connections from Sydney to London and New York, non-stop and lasting more than 20 hours. The “Project Sunrise” is also intended to offer economy class passengers more comfort with so-called “wellbeing zones”, which, unlike Air New Zealand, will not be equipped with beds.

Those who want to stretch out in Air New Zealand’s “Skynest” sleeping cabins have to dig deeper into their pockets than normal Economy Class passengers. The airline has not yet finally determined how deep. But chief customer Leanne Geraghty expects a price of $400 to $600 per 4-hour session, according to the press release.

If you add the price to the price of the normal economy ticket, you may wonder whether you can buy a ticket for business class, which is equipped with beds anyway. Clear answer: no. Because business class flights from Auckland to New York cost about 5000 to 6000 dollars.

A seat in Economy Class including Skynest will probably range between 1600 and 1900 dollars. But you shouldn’t have any problems falling asleep, because even this kind of sleep remains a luxury.

Sources: Air New Zealand (1), (2), Qantas, Washington Post