When Air New Zealand decided to do a total reno on their new Dreamliners, they thought long and hard about what they could include.
They toyed with the idea of an exercise area, they added a 'Sky Pantry' where flyers can grab a sneaky snack whenever they like, but maybe the most exciting new feature for economy travellers is the introduction of 'Sky Nest'.
You might have already heard about the new feature, which is a six-pod sleep zone where passengers can tuck themselves into an actual bed for a snooze on long haul flights.
We were lucky enough to try it out for ourselves - sadly not on a flight to New York, but at a mock up of the cabin at Air NZ's 'Innovation Lab'.
On first glance, the set up looks quite…snug, and like it could be a problem for claustrophobic flyers. Once you get in though, it's a different story. The single bunks are over 6ft long, and come with their own full-size pillow, sheets and a blanket, and a sheer curtain to provide a little privacy.
You also get earplugs, so not to worry if your bunkmates are prone to snoring. If you'd rather just relax than rest, you can read with your own light, or plug your phone into the USB outlet.
The beds are configured three on each side, which allows you to book for your preference - if you want a cosy private pod experience, the bottom bed is for you, but you have to be ok with sleeping on floor level. The middle bed would be best for people with limited mobility, and the upper bed means you don't have to deal with anyone climbing past you to get to the loo - plus, it gives you that 'big kid at the sleepover' feeling.
These things are a world first, and it shows. It felt super futuristic to see the Sky Nest pod in the middle of economy and business class, and even just lying down for a couple of minutes, you get the sense of how much of a game-changer this would be for those nightmarish flights.
The Sky Nest beds are single occupancy, but even your travel companion wins when you book a slot, as they get a bunch of extra room to stretch out in while your seat is empty. Each passenger can only book one session per flight, but that gets you four uninterrupted hours of horizontal time.
Bedding is changed between each session, of course, before which time the lights in the Sky Nest "gently" come on to wake you. Air NZ says its crew will "politely" wake any passengers who sleep through this.
Air NZ is still working through the finer details of the Sky Nest, which will be available to book as soon as September next year on flights to New York and Chicago. At this stage, the pricing is set to be around $400 - $600 per session, on top of your normal ticket price.
Of course, this isn't cheap, but it's a heck of a lot more accessible than a business class ticket, and it could make a huge difference.
Also, how lovely would it be to buy your loved one a Sky Nest session as a 'bon voyage' gift if they're heading overseas next year? (hint hint).