Air New Zealand strategic development general manager Nathan Agnew said the airline wants to introduce an entirely new type of economy cabin when it takes delivery of its fleet of Boeing 787-9 and 777-300ER long-range jets from 2010.
Cabin crew already sleep in pods during long distance flights, usually hidden away at the rear plane or in the ceiling space above the passenger cabin.
“Given that a lot of our long-haul flying is overnight, it might actually be preferable for our customers simply to have something like that rather than have a seat,” Agnew said.
Because eating in a pod might be difficult, passengers may be served a meal at the airport before the flight, allowing them to immediately go to sleep once on the plane.
Agnew said airfares would be similar to current economy fares.
Agnew stressed that it was still a theoretical concept with no guarantees that Air New Zealand would ultimately provide them in its new planes.
Interesting that design for crew seating, which often is found in narrow areas above or below the passenger cabin, is filtering back into passenger seating concepts.
Here’s a Boeing promotional image that shows giddily-happy flight attendants cavorting in the crew pods, having their own slumber party… with room service! The captain has turned on the pillow-fight sign! (Would that it were so.)
The Air New Zealand pod idea has potential — maybe even more than the bunk-style hive-like Lufthansa seats. But pods could get claustrophobic, and challenges remain. You might get one meal out of the way at the airport, before the flight, but on long flights, you need a second meal, too. How will you eat it? And you need to find a way to balance the desires of those who want to do nothing but sleep or watch movies, not to mention work, with the desires of those who want to mill about the cabin periodically. Regardless, it’s good to see another airline rethinking cabin layouts seriously.