We’ve been traveling back and forth between Hawaii and the mainland again this week, as a result, you’re about to read three fascinating reviews you won’t find anywhere else. We’ll leave it at that for today, but don’t miss these.
What’s clear is that the options for Hawaii travel are evolving pretty rapidly, and the trends are mesmerizing. Economy offerings already go from somewhat to much more legroom, true premium-economy products, to luxurious business and first class, at various service levels and price points.
One airline is leading the all-important economy class innovation with its a la carte solution. This will undoubtedly be one of the future trends coming to Hawaii flights on other airlines too.
Air New Zealand, which flies to Honolulu from its Auckland home base, is planning to retrofit its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners with new “Skynests.” These are beds in economy for six people that can be reserved in 4-hour increments. We saw this when the announcement came out earlier this summer. It was first planned in 2020 but delayed due to Covid. Their Skynest is now ready for deployment in the next 24 months.
As we fly around more to test and review different airlines and classes of service to Hawaii, it will be even more clear why this will hit an interesting sweet spot for many.
First, the differentiation of both services and costs is growing on flights to Hawaii. We mentioned previously that first class/business could routinely cost up to 10 times the price of economy to Hawaii. The problem that Air New Zealand addressed is that sometimes you just want to sleep, and you don’t need every other luxurious thing.
Air New Zealand says that passengers “overwhelmingly” want to sleep on planes. “We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort, and wellness because we know how important it is for our customers to arrive well-rested.” They went on to say, “We wanted to offer our Economy customers a lie-flat option and that’s how Skynest was born. It’s going to be a real game-changer for the economy travel experience.”
And we think they’re right. What it took Jeff to navigate the hotel, ground transportation, TSA, and then the 1 1/3 mile hike to the gate at LAX this week was enough to make anyone want a nap, and not while seated in an economy class seat. Add to his fatigue the fact that he’s just flown in the other direction from Hawaii late the prior day.
Each new and retrofitted Air New Zealand plane will have six Skynest sleep pods at the rear of the aircraft. Another interesting twist is that the airline is adding a Sky Pantry for economy passengers so that they are encouraged to get a snack, something to drink, and stretch their legs. Nice touch!
Economy Skynest reminds us of airline cabin crew rest areas.
There will be one Skynest, which contains six dedicated beds on three levels (like bunk beds) that can be rented by the hour on the flight. The exact price hasn’t yet been determined. The idea here is that you can plan ahead and purchase your economy seat and a bed for several hours during your flight. We’d tag the value of a multi-hour lie flat nap en route to Hawaii at perhaps $250 per hour, in 2-hour increments. If that sounds outrageous, keep in mind that true wide-body, lie-flat seating on flights to Hawaii is already in the $1k to$2k range one-way and keeps going up. So a $129 ticket combined with a $500 bed definitely has a place.
Skynests remind us of the wide-body cabin crew rest areas on Hawaii flights.
You may have noticed that previously. On Hawaiian’s A330, for example, it is located at about row 35, where a semi-secret door across from the lavatory leads to stairs down to the 6-bedded rest area.
Enjoy the Skynest video. And please let us know your thoughts.