You may soon get a real bed in Economy on long-haul flights

With Covid aftereffects still causing massive amounts of delays and cancellations at airports, there isn’t much good news about air travel right now. But maybe I’ve come across a bright spot.

At least one airline says it could soon make the dreams of exhausted long-haul travelers come true. Air New Zealand just announced plans to install real economy class beds on its ultra-long-haul flights.

Imagine if you could really sleep well in economy class?

As someone who makes regular trips of over 20 hours with a 7 year old in tow, the idea of ​​having a really flat surface to stretch out on without having to stretch an arm and a leg for first class was a of my fondest wishes for years. I’m sure many entrepreneurs who travel long distances for business share my daydreams about quality sleep in economy class.

Apparently those dreams are about to come true. Air New Zealand is already known for its economy ‘couch’ seats, which fold up a row of seats and create a flat surface for three passengers to share. Now the airline plans to step up its comfort game further.

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The airline recently announced that it will launch upgraded 787-9 Dreamliners with “Skynests” in economy in 2024. That’s a fancy airline that speaks for bunk beds. The newly-decked aircraft will feature six of these sleeping capsules that passengers can pay to rent for four hours. You can even get food and drink while enjoying your lay-flat experience. (Although I personally can’t imagine using even a minute of my four hours for anything other than a blissful sleep without getting a kid’s foot in my face.)

It’s true that reality isn’t as perfect as my fantasies about a mid-air mattress. Because availability is limited, these sleeping capsules are likely to be booked up incredibly quickly. Regulatory approval for the upgrade is still pending. And initially, they will likely be limited to ultra-long-haul flights, such as the new 17-hour route from New York to Auckland.

Still, it’s nice to see an airline announce a change that doesn’t focus on a monstrous new idea of ​​squeezing more passengers on planes or more money out of passengers. Air New Zealand is just one airline changing only a few planes and routes, but their decision to upgrade for passenger comfort could put pressure on other companies to do more to make long-haul travel less miserable in the economy.

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“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead the way in ultra-long travel experiences,” said Greg Foran, CEO of Air New Zealand, in a release announcing the upgrade. “It will be a real game-changer for the travel experience in the economy.”

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not’s.

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