Take a look at Air NZ's new economy lie-flat option

Source: 1News

Air New Zealand says it will be the first airline to offer sleep pods for travellers in economy class on its ultra-longhaul flights.

Dubbed Skynest, the airline will offer six lie-flat sleep pods for those in economy.

The arrangement will be available on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which are due to arrive in 2024, and its retrofitted 787-9 fleet, when flying ultra-longhaul to the likes of New York and Chicago.

“We wanted to offer our economy customers a lie-flat option and that’s how Skynest was born," said chief executive Greg Foran.

"It’s going to be a real game changer for the economy travel experience.”

The bunks can be booked for four-hour time slots. with the additional cost yet to be announced. The concept was first announced in 2020.

In other additions to its revamped cabins, there will be a 'sky pantry' offering refreshments for economy and premium economy ticket holders.

The airline will also offer a new business premier luxe suite, which will allow two passengers to dine together behind a closing door, as well as a new business premier seat.

Foran told 1News it had been nearly 20 years since the long-haul planes had enjoyed a significant cabin upgrade.

He was confident demand would continue to increase as the world emerged from Covid. It was finally launching its New York route in September, after it was delayed due to the pandemic.

Foran said the airline expected to be operating at 100% of pre-Covid levels domestically during the upcoming school holidays, and the Tasman routes were coming back strongly.

International, other than parts of Asia, had been "really robust".

Earlier this month, it announced rising fuel prices and other costs were seeing it hike ticket prices.

"We're also not immune to things like inflation, just like everyone else in New Zealand, on things like food," Foran said during a tour of the new cabin.

To fill a Dreamliner for an Auckland to LA flight, it used to cost $42,000. It was now $96,000.

It still needed staff, and was offering cash incentives to get more people on board.