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Behind the design of Air New Zealand’s new sleep cabins

After years in the works, Air New Zealand have finally revealed their new cabins that ensures passengers a good sleep, but why did it take so long and why do we have to wait until 2024 to snooze?

For five years now, New Zealand’s prime airline has been working on creating sleep options for its passengers after considering that geographically, most flights in and out of the country are long-haul experiences.

“We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested,” says Greg Foran, Air New Zealand Chief Executive.

Air New Zealand has introduced seven new innovative sleep options between its cabins, all with one goal – providing comfort.

Sitting down with Kerry Reeves, Air New Zealand’s Head of Aircraft Programmes, he explains the design process to create these new cabins was long and faced trial and error to get to where it is now.

“Because it cost a lot of money to build an airplane, you have to be very sure it will deliver the outcome that you want,” he says.

Reeves says the process to create the new sleep cabins started after some “digging” into what passengers found was important in cabins. The results all pointed towards sleep, which became the driver of their design strategy.

The design process around the new cabins involved a lot of prototyping, says Reeves. For each prototype, they brought in customers to test their concepts, received feedback and evolved each prototype to get to their seven sleep cabins.

Read more: A day in the Life: Air New Zealand’s Jodie King.

Reeves says that each prototype trial focused on sleep, comfort, and anxiety. “You learn a lot from testing,” he adds.

Each trial was strict, but he says that for Air New Zealand there was so much value to it as they watch and observe how passengers use the features, the comfort they expect and more.

Outside of sleeping, Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says the cabin’s interior design is inspired by the “uniqueness” of Aotearoa, incorporating forest inspired carpet and seats with designs from the native Tui bird.

“With the subtle unique artworks, we wanted it to reflect our culture which is an important part of expressing that from when they enter the aircraft and interact with the brand,” says Reeves.

After the design process, prototyping and trials, renderings and mock-ups of what the cabin will look like are created to aid the engineering process when making it a reality by 2024.

Leanne Geraghty and Greg Foran.

“Now that we are confident, we can now head into the engineering and certification process which will take a lot of time. It will be intense and complicated to deliver,” he says.

Reeves adds that trialling however will continue, but this will not change the overall cabin and will only contribute to minor changes.

“We want to make sure that it is not compromised in the engineering process and not let the engineering get in the way,” he adds.

With two more years until we see these new cabins in the flesh, here are the renderings of Air New Zealand’s sleep options.

Business Premier Luxe

This option is a luxury experience with a door and even space for two to dine.

Reeves shares that after his own trialling, the Business Premier Luxe is the highest quality of sleep on the plane but reassures people that this is replicated in the Economy Skynest. 

Business Premier

This option assures “blissful” and “tranquil” sleep with an option to “open their nest” if travelling with a companion.

Premium Economy

This new seat offers more privacy than economy and also has more space with a recline.

Economy Skynest

The world’s first sleep pods on a plan, giving economy travellers the option to really catch some sleep.

Economy Skycouch

An option that lets passengers use the economy seats to stretch, lay down and sleep.

Economy Stretch

An elevated version of the economy seat that ensures more room for the legs.

Economy Seat

After many years, the economy seat sees an upgrade with more storage, better comfort, more space and a 50 percent bigger screen.

Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email bernadette.basagre@scg.net.nz

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