Flag carrier Air New Zealand has enhanced economy class travelling with the introduction of lie-flat sleep pods.

Known as Economy Skynest, the six full-length lie-flat sleep pod prototypes follow three years of research and development by the carrier.

The airline also took into account feedback from more than 200 customers at its Hangar 22 innovation centre in Auckland.

Air New Zealand has filed patent and trademark applications for the Economy Skynest.

Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said: “We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft.

“A clear pain point for economy travellers on long-haul flights is the inability to stretch out. The development of the Economy Skynest is a direct response to that challenge.”

Air New Zealand also operates long-haul flights, including the 17h 40min Auckland-New York one-way service in the near future.

The carrier will evaluate the performance of the pods on its Auckland-New York operations and make a decision next year.

General customer experience manager Nikki Goodman said: “We see a future flying experience where an economy-class customer on long-haul flights would be able to book the Economy Skynest, in addition to their economy seat, get some quality rest and arrive at their destination ready to go.”

“This is one of the highlights of three years’ intensive work centred on customer wellbeing. We expect other airlines will want to explore licensing the Economy Skynest from us just as they have with the Economy Skycouch.”

Last month, Air New Zealand tested new computer vision artificial intelligence (AI) technology to enhance aircraft turnaround times.