Would you pay $380 to lie down for a few hours on a flight? Air New Zealand thinks you will

People sleeping in Air New Zealand's planned Skynest bunk beds.
Air New Zealand will let passengers book a bunk bed for four hours on its longest flights, starting in September 2024.
Air New Zealand

If you’ve ever had problems sleeping on a long flight, and just wished you could lie down for a few hours, Air New Zealand might have the solution for you.

And the airline thinks you might be willing to pay almost $400 for the privilege.

On Wednesday, Air New Zealand revealed more details on the Skynest, a pod of bunk beds that the airline first announced last June. The pod includes six bunks, each including a pillow, sheets, a blanket, a reading light, and a USB outlet to charge personal devices. 

The airline says the pods will be available from September 2024 on its Auckland-Chicago and Auckland–New York flights. Air New Zealand’s flight to the latter destination, at around 17.5 hours, is the fourth-longest commercial flight in the world.

But there are a few extra details for economy passengers who want the luxury of an in-flight bed.

First is price. The Skynest is an additional cost to the ticket price, so passengers will need to spend extra for a bunk bed. While Air New Zealand says it has yet to finalize the price, it expects a booking to cost between 400 to 600 New Zealand dollars (about $250 to $380 at current exchange rates).

Second is that a passenger can only book one four-hour slot for the entire flight. When nap time is up, the pod’s lights will “gently come on” to rouse passengers and get them back to their seats. Sleep in, and a member of the crew will “politely wake” you.

The crew will then prepare the pod for the next customer, changing the bedding during a 30-minute-long transition period. 

Bunkbeds are not the only luxury Air New Zealand plans for passengers on its long-haul flights. The airline already offers the Skycouch, which allows passengers to book a special row of three seats with special foot rests that transform them into a bench. 

The airline also debuted a revamped business class last September when it launched its nonstop flight to New York.

Other airlines are considering extra comforts for long-haul passengers. Australian airline Qantas, for example, has ordered customized Airbus planes that include extra leg room and a “Wellbeing Zone” for passengers on its planned Sydney–New York and Sydney-London flights, starting in late 2025.

Travel recovery

Air New Zealand is recovering from years of losses due to its home country’s tough COVID restrictions during much of the pandemic. The island country imposed travel barriers early in the pandemic, mandating centralized quarantine for international arrivals and at times barring entry to noncitizens and nonresidents. The rules caused the country’s international tourism sector—its largest source of foreign exchange pre-pandemic—to disappear.

The country lifted these restrictions last July, and the government is now trying to bring visitors back. The country’s statistics bureau reported that international visitors in January—the middle of the country’s peak summer travel season—were at two-thirds of pre-pandemic levels. 

Earlier this year, Air New Zealand reported $1.9 billion in revenue over the six-month period ending Dec. 31, 2022, compared to $713 million in the same period the year before. The airline also reported a net profit of $134 million over the same period, up from a $172 million loss the year before. The airline said it was flying at 60% of its international capacity.

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