I went inside Air New Zealand’s future plane cabin that has bunk beds in economy and wireless chargers in business class. Take a look.

Jaime E. Love

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Insider's reporter visited Air New Zealand's innovation hub to view the airline's newest plane cabins.

Insider’s reporter previewed the airline’s newest plane cabins.Monica Humphries/Insider

  • In June, Air New Zealand unveiled new airplane cabins for long-haul flights.

  • I previewed the changes travelers can expect when the new Boeing 787-9 fleet starts service in 2024.

  • The cabins have wireless-charging stations for business class and bunk beds for economy passengers.

In late June, I traveled to Auckland, New Zealand, for a first look at the airline’s redesigned cabins. The cabins will be on Air New Zealand’s new eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which are slated to fly in 2024.

The author in the Auckland airport.

The author in the Auckland airport.Monica Humphries/Insider

For full disclosure, Insider received a press rate for the round-trip flight to Auckland, New Zealand. 

While the process of redesigning the cabin has taken more than five years, I saw a real-life model that had been constructed days earlier in Air New Zealand’s offices.

The interior of Air New Zealand's innovation lab.

The interior of Air New Zealand’s innovation lab.Monica Humphries/Insider

I explored a replica plane with Kerry Reeves, Air New Zealand’s head of airline programmes and the person leading the cabin’s redesign. As he pointed out major and minor changes in the new cabin, I saw firsthand how it would create a flight focused on privacy and sleep.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

Kerry Reeves gives a tour of the Air New Zealand’s new cabin design.Monica Humphries/Insider

Currently, the airline’s long-haul flights have three classes: business premier, premium economy, and economy. According to Air New Zealand’s website, a round-trip flight from LA to Auckland starts at $6,440 for business premier, $3,055 for premium economy, and $1,255 for economy.

A seat chart for one of Air New Zealand's Boeing 787s.

A seat chart for one of Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787s.Air New Zealand

Source: Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s new planes will keep these three classes and add a new seat-type within its business-premier class called business premier luxe.

The new business-premier-luxe seat.

The new business-premier-luxe seat.Monica Humphries/Insider

Both business premier and business premier luxe are considered first-class, but the luxe seats have more space and privacy. Air New Zealand hasn’t set prices for each seat yet but says its business-premier-luxe seats will cost more than business-premier.

Side-by-side images of the business-premier (left) and business-premier-luxe (right) seats.

Side-by-side images of the business-premier (left) and business-premier-luxe (right) seats.Air New Zealand/Monica Humphries/Insider

The luxe seats, which Air New Zealand calls suites, have an exterior door that closes off to other passengers and flight attendants.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

Kerry Reeves, Air New Zealand’s head of airline programmes, demonstrates how the doors close.Monica Humphries/Insider

Business-premier seats will have a smaller privacy wall than business-premiere-luxe suites.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

An arrow points to the partial privacy wall that business-class travelers will have.Monica Humphries/Insider

In the luxe suites, I spotted a wraparound bench large enough for another passenger. Reeves told me it’s designed so that pairs traveling together can share meals in a single suite.

The interior of the luxe seats has a bench for another passenger.

The interior of the luxe seats has a bench for another passenger.Monica Humphries/Insider

The business-premier seats lack a wraparound bench, but there is a foot rest for the traveler.

The interior of the business-premier seat.

The interior of the business-premier seat.Air New Zealand

Both business-premier and business-premier-luxe seats have lie-flat beds.

The redesigned cabin still has lie-flat beds for passengers.

The redesigned cabin still has lie-flat beds for passengers.Monica Humphries/Insider

All first-class passengers will be able to move their seats into the fully horizontal position themselves in the airline’s new cabin. In the current cabins, a flight attendant has to switch seats into beds.

In the current cabin design, flight attendants have to convert the seats into beds for passengers.

In the current cabin design, flight attendants have to convert the seats into beds for passengers.Monica Humphries/Insider

Business-premier and business-premier-luxe passengers will also have more seat positions than they currently do.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

Passengers can hit a button to choose their desired seat position.Monica Humphries/Insider

Reeves said Air New Zealand is currently working with the Federal Aviation Administration to get approval to be the first airline to allow business-class passengers to take off and land in reclined positions.

The new seats on future Air New Zealand long-haul flights.

The new seats on future Air New Zealand long-haul flights.Monica Humphries/Insider

Regardless of whether a passenger is in business-premier or business-premier-luxe, I noticed that those sitting in the interior row of the plane have a sliding door that connects or disconnects them from their neighbor.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

An arrow points to a sliding mirror so passengers can feel like they’re sitting next to each other.Monica Humphries/Insider

Reeves also pointed to other new details that business-premier and business-premier-luxe passengers can expect like wireless-charging stations …

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

An arrow points to the wireless-charging station.Monica Humphries/Insider

… and larger screens. In the new cabins, passengers will have 24-inch TVs (rather than 13-inch TVs, as in the current cabins) that connect to Bluetooth.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

The TVs are larger and connect to Bluetooth.Monica Humphries/Insider

Overall, I thought the new first-class seats seemed more private compared to the current design. Today, business-class passengers have lie-flat beds that are angled toward the center of the plane.

The current business-class cabin on Air New Zealand's Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The current business-class cabin on Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner.Monica Humphries/Insider

I sat in the current business-class section on my flight to New Zealand, and while I was able to get a full night’s rest, my seat felt exposed to other passengers.

The author in her business-class seat.

The author in her business-class seat.Monica Humphries/Insider

Reeves said the airline’s new Dreamliners will have eight business-premier-luxe seats and 42 business-premier seats. This is nearly double the number of seats on the airline’s current Boeing 787-9 planes.

A business-premier-luxe suite.

A business-premier-luxe suite.Monica Humphries/Insider

On my flight over, there were 27 business-premier seats and no business-premier-luxe seats. Air New Zealand will retrofit its current Boeing 787-9s with the new cabin design, but with four business-premier-luxe seats and 22 business-premier seats, Reeves said.

The current premier-business cabin sits 21 passengers.

The current premier-business cabin sits 21 passengers.Monica Humphries/Insider

After I previewed first-class offerings, I entered the model’s future premium-economy cabin.

The premium economy seats on the future Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet.

The premium economy seats on the future Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet.Monica Humphries/Insider

In premium economy, Reeves noted the new headrest with two lights that now extends outwards — an effort to create a sense of privacy.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

The extended headrest on premium economy seats.Monica Humphries/Insider

The new economy-plus seats exchange 13-inch screens for 15 inches, and below each seat there’s now a footrest.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

An arrow points to the footrest premium-economy seats will have in Air New Zealand’s new cabin.Monica Humphries/Insider

Finally, I navigated to the economy seats at the back of the model plane.

A model of the future economy seats.

A model of the future economy seats.Monica Humphries/Insider

Coach passengers will still be able to opt for Air New Zealand’s Skycouch. It’s currently available on long-haul flights and allows passengers to purchase a row of seats that transform into a couch with help of a footrest. The cost varies, but on a recent search, I found the upgrade would cost an extra $1,400 each way.

Air New Zealand's "Skycouch."

Air New Zealand’s Skycouch.Monica Humphries/Insider

Next to the Skycouch, I saw the most unique part of the cabin’s redesign: a set of bunk beds called a Skynest.

A model of the Skynest that will be on Air New Zealand's long-haul flights in 2024.

A model of the Skynest that’s slated to be on Air New Zealand’s long-haul flights in 2024.Monica Humphries/Insider

In addition to buying an economy seat, passengers will have the option to purchase a reserved time slot in the bunk beds.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

Six beds will be available for passengers to reserve.Monica Humphries/Insider

Read more: An airline plans to install bunk beds and couches in economy class to help to boost comfort on long-haul flights

While the airline hasn’t set a price for a nap in the Skynest, Reeves said the beds will cost less for a solo traveler than a premium-economy or business-class ticket or the Skycouch upgrade.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

The interior of the Skynest.Monica Humphries/Insider

I think having the option to rest in a lie-flat bed on a long-haul flight could be a major game-changer for passengers who wouldn’t want to buy more expensive tickets.

The author in Air New Zealand's "Skynest."

The author in Air New Zealand’s Skynest.Monica Humphries/Insider

The final change I spotted was a free Sky Pantry, where premium-economy and economy passengers can get unlimited fruit, snacks, and drinks.

The interior of the redesigned Air New Zealand plane cabin.

Examples of the Sky Pantries that will be on Air New Zealand’s long-haul flights.Monica Humphries/Insider

What I saw was just a model of the future cabins, but I can see how major changes like the Skynest and minor changes like wireless chargers would improve daunting long-haul flights to New Zealand.

The author stands in front of Air New Zealand's new "Skynest."

The author stands in front of Air New Zealand’s new Skynest.Monica Humphries/Insider

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