International airline travel is set for a makeover as airlines are trying to woo economy passengers with new facilities, including well-being zones and bunk bed-style sleeping pods.

Air New Zealand, for example, said it will have bunk bed-style sleeping pods on its planes by 2024. Passengers will be able to book four-hour sessions in lie-flat sleeping pods — which the airline has named Skynest — at an additional cost. Greg Foran, Air New Zealand’s chief executive, said the bunk-style beds will be “a real gamechanger for the economy travel experience.”

Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said, “Research shows the first night away from home is the hardest to get a good night’s sleep, so everything we do on board is to help create a sense of calm — from the lighting and sleep ritual, including sleepy teas and balms, to healthier food choices and breathable fabrics. Meditative onscreen content, Zentertainment, will also help customers unwind and get ready for rest.”

On the other hand, Qantas will have ‘well-being zones’ providing passengers with a physical place to meditate, stretch, and relax.

‘Interesting, bold concept’

A top airline executive in an Indian full-service carrier said the concept of providing a sleeping pod is extremely interesting and bold, and one would have to wait to see how the airline will implement it. “There will definitely be demand but not sure how it will be managed as I read it will be an hourly kind of rate; also who will wake up the passengers, how will the place be cleaned etc., (remains to be seen),” the executive said.

Nripendra Singh, Global Director, Frost & Sullivan, believes it is an absolutely refreshing move to offer such services onboard, especially by carriers that want to go hybrid in offering premium economy at an affordable cost. “Historically, small changes in configuration and customisation in service offerings have helped airlines in enhancing their ancillary revenues and optimise profits,” Singh said.