Air New Zealand


The very best project in each discipline at the Best Design Awards is awarded the supreme, Purple Pin for work that truly raises the bar for New Zealand design.

Purple Pin 2023
Product: Skynest™
Studio: Air New Zealand

Judge's comments

Putting New Zealand design on the global stage. The judges praised the depth of design process in creating the Skynest concept that disrupts and democracies the experience of sleeping on a plane in economy class. Skynest is a heroic effort in one of the world’s most difficult industries to innovate in. Thoughtfully designed at every touch point and globally recognised by global media putting New Zealand design on the world stage.


It’s time to swap the headrest for some bedrest. Say hello to the world’s first sleep pods in the sky, the Skynest™. Designed in-house and set to be a gamechanger in aviation, Air New Zealand’s Skynest™ is a lie-flat experience for Economy class passengers. A standalone monument on the main deck of the aircraft it is comprised of 6 bunks for passengers to rest, stretch out and boost their physical and mental wellbeing during their journey.

Customer-centric research identified insightful opportunity areas to deliver customer comfort and value in a way that broke the mould. Sleep, rest, and control over a passenger’s journey are still the biggest pain points and hardest challenges to economically solve in the Economy cabin. Skynest™ addresses the heightened comfort needs of Ultra Long-Haul routes and delivers relief and separation from the main Economy cabin – an environment which offers limited privacy and personal space. With one person per bunk, the aim of the game is rest in a quiet and private zone.

Skynest™ also responds to a regularly raised reality; Economy passengers have limited opportunities to improve their experience during the flight within their travel budget. Skynest™ provides an affordable upgrade option for those who need it the most and is central to Air New Zealand’s economy proposition - ‘Cabin of Possibility’; offering our customers more ways to fly than any other airline.

The Skynest™ experience can be purchased in addition to an Economy seat, with session times of approximately 4 hours for each passenger. Sleep cycle research determined that a four-hour session enabled two REM cycles – enough for our customers to feel refreshed and rested.

Industrial Design breakthroughs resolved the location, layout, and form within a highly constrained and regulated environment to achieve the required efficiency for operational simplicity and economic viability. Located on the main deck and mid-cabin reduces complexity and is less discriminating, unlike other earlier industry concepts that were situated below deck.

Features such as the stairwell (as opposed to a ladder), the sculpted dome height (to ease access to the top bunk and enhance the sense of space), positions of the handgrabs (for safety and ergonomics), the internal angled entryway (for privacy from the cabin), and side-on access to each bunk (as opposed to end-on access) were all informed by our engagement with customer groups and observations of their interaction with several iterations of full-scale prototypes. These considered details make the zone feel familiar and comfortable to passengers.

A comprehensive innovation process enabled the breakthrough required to deliver the Skynest™ product, with customer involvement being central to the process. Customer testing shaped not only the design direction (Desirability), provided clarity on the customer value (Viability) and the confidence to continue in-depth to resolve engineering and operational solutions (Feasibility).

The Skynest™ innovation delivers a groundbreaking experience within an aircraft that is both operationally efficient and commercially viable. Innovation is at the heart of Air New Zealand and Skynest™ is no exception.