Lie-flat in economy class? Air New Zealand unveils flying bunk beds

For many flyers a luxury lie flat bed on long-haul flights has been out of reach, but economy passengers might soon have another option.

Air New Zealand has developed a sleeping pod prototype that could help passengers cope with near-18 hour flights.

The Economy Skynest concept unveiled on Wednesday (February 26) features six bunks, much like those on sleeper trains.

The opportunity to stretch out would come at a cost in addition to their regular seat, but one the airline believes people would be willing to pay, especially as demand rises for non-stop services.

Turning the pods into reality won't be easy.

Analysts say the airline faces a stiff hurdle in making the economics of the new product work, and in meeting safety requirements.

The airline said it would make a final decision on the Skynest next year, after it assessed the performance of its new Auckland to New York route, due to take flight in October.