Do you have a specific airline you prefer to fly and will go out of your way to take? Starting in 2024, Air New Zealand is going to test your loyalty with a slew of upgrades, including the world’s first lay flat beds available to economy class passengers looking to fly comfortably without blowing the budget.
Flying was once a truly enjoyable and novel part of the travel experience, but with seat space getting smaller and airlines now charging for everything from food to checked luggage, flying has become a necessary evil: something you just need to endure before you get to your destination. Does it have to be that way? Airlines will argue that the cost of fuel, airport fees, and increasing competition from discount no-frills competitors leaves them no choice, but then you’ve got airlines like Air New Zealand, who seem to be finally putting passengers first.
The airline has eight new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners being delivered in 2024, and will be upgrading and retrofitting its existing fleet of Dreamliners with new seating options that sound downright luxurious. That includes changes to its Business Premier seating, allowing more privacy and even options where two passengers can dine together while sitting across from each other. But many of the upgrades won’t just be limited to first class passengers with unlimited budgets.
The cheapest seating option on the Dreamliners will now offer more space and legroom, extra storage capacity for carry-on luggage, and a seatback screen that’s 50% larger and includes the option to connect wireless headphones to the plane’s in-flight entertainment system over Bluetooth, as well as pair a smartphone which will then function as a remote or an additional screen for content.
The most anticipated upgrade to Air New Zealand’s Dreamliner fleet is the new Economy Skynest option. The airline calls it “the world’s first sleep pods in the sky,” and while not as spacious as the bed you have at home, it allows six passengers to either sit or spread out on a full length bed, complete with pillows and blankets. You can even still get food and drink service if you opt for the bunk bed experience. It’s not as private as the lay flat beds offered in each plane’s Business Premier section, but there appears to be curtains that can be pulled across if you want to sleep your way through turbulence, crying babies, and endless announcements.
The only catch is that, based on proposed layouts of the Dreamliners, Air New Zealand will offer just one set of six Economy Skynest sleep pods on each flight. So like the coveted emergency exit row seating, travellers can expect this option to be booked up fast once available in 2024.