Ask all economy class passengers if they want more space, better food, better service, a better passenger experience, or even a sleep pod like: Air New Zealand’s new Economy Skynest — and they will answer you with a loud “yes.” However, things get a little vague when you ask them how much they would pay for the experience. Air New Zealand, which recently revealed some of the pricing and service details for its Skynest in Christchurch, will soon find out if passengers are willing to spend their money.
First, timing and route details. As expected, Skynest will begin operating on the company’s ultra-long haul routes, and we will first see the new product on Boeing 787 flights from Auckland to New York and Chicago from September 2024.
“North America is the perfect market for Skynest as it has a premium segment that emphasizes comfort and sleep during long-haul travel,” Air New Zealand chief customer and commercial director Lianne Geraghty said in a statement.
This premium comfort market positioning is interesting given that the market between Australia and North America has become largely commoditized and serves an increasingly wide range. Less than a month ago, Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance partner United Airlines announced a 40% increase in its schedule to Australia and New Zealand for the 2023-2024 winter season, to 66 flights per week.
When it comes to products, Air New Zealand has confirmed Skynest’s full offer. So, one he in one of the 6 sleeping pods is a 4 hour session. Therefore, you cannot layer 3 sessions to create an economy flatbed experience. long flight. Air New Zealand plans a 15:55 Auckland-JFK return flight at 17:50, allowing three slots per flight.
Capsule Monument is located between Premium Economy Cabin and Economy Cabin. Each pod comes with “lights designed for rest” plus its own reading light, ventilator and USB outlet. Appropriate pillows, blankets, sheets and earplugs are also provided, and linen is changed between sessions, with the airline allocating 30 minutes for that change.
After four hours, “the lights will come on softly at the end of each session and the crew will politely wake up sleeping passengers en route,” the airline said.
For safety, each pod is equipped with its own seat belt, allowing users to remain inside the pod even during turbulence.
“As a New Zealand company, we are proud to announce that the Skynest will be designed and installed here in Aotearoa,” said Geraghty of the 787 upgrade.
The company’s CEO, Greg Foran, also said, “Our first new 787 is scheduled for the end of next year and will also feature the revolutionary Skynest.”
Passengers are limited to one session only with respect to their booking. Air New Zealand says that “families traveling on the same ticket can book sessions for each passenger, subject to availability.”
Now for the $64,000 question, pricing. “We are still working out the details of how the booking process will work and have not yet decided on pricing. [we] We expect about $400 to $600 for four hours,” Geraghty says.
An airline representative confirmed to Runway Girl Network that this is in New Zealand dollars and the current exchange rate is 1:1.60, so NZ$400-600 would be around US$250-375.
A round-trip economy flight between Auckland and JFK currently costs just under $2,000 (premium economy is effectively double that), which is about a quarter to a third of the one-way fare.
“SkyNest captivates the imagination of audiences around the world and has already been recognized for its uniqueness with multiple awards, the latest being Crystal Cabin Award Finalist. We are delighted that our customers are as excited about this new innovation as we are,” said Geraghty.
It is certainly so. Travelers get really excited. For many budget-conscious travelers, a good night’s sleep on a long haul flight may be a dream come true. And Air New Zealand should be celebrated for its innovative spirit.
The economics of four hours of comfort on a 16- to 18-hour flight and the opportunity cost of that four-hour nap opportunity remain big issues for Skynest. What else can passengers spend the same money on while traveling and how long can they rest? Once you buy them, how good will the rest be?
All images are copyright Air New Zealand