Inside Skynest: Inside Air NZ's lie-flat economy future

Air New Zealand's Skynest is a sleep pod containing six full-length beds. Picture: Supplied
Air New Zealand's Skynest is a sleep pod containing six full-length beds. Picture: Supplied

After three years of research and development, as well as input from more than 200 customers, Air New Zealand has unveiled a prototype of a new ground-breaking lie-flat bed.

Long-haul travel in economy could be a whole lot more comfortable in the Economy Skynest, a sleep pod containing six full-length beds in bunk formation with privacy curtains.

Air New Zealand's chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod says that as the airline operates some of the world's longest flights, such as the upcoming Auckland to New York service which takes 17 hours 40 minutes, the beds could change the way people travel.

"We have a tremendous amount of development work underway looking at product innovations we can bring across all cabins of the aircraft," Mr Tod said.

"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 won't make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the Economy Skynest until next year, after assessing the performance of its inaugural Auckland-New York operations.

Air New Zealand's head of aircraft programmes, Kerry Reeves, says the scale of the challenge to develop the Economy Skynest and work through its certification with the necessary regulators is immense compared with the development of the Economy Skycouch.

"But it was a prize worth chasing and one that we think has the potential to be a game changer for economy class travellers on all airlines around the world," Mr Reeves said.

Pop the question on stage at the Opera House

If you're thinking of proposing to your significant other, Opera Australia has launched a new Proposal Package where you can pop the question in front of an audience of 1500 at the Sydney Opera House.

Taking the daunting task of proposing marriage to an entirely new level, you'll be centre stage and under the spotlight during a performance of Great Opera Hits.

At a previously agreed moment during the concert, the MC will invite the couple on to the stage, much to the surprise of one of the pair, for this not-so-private but unforgettable special moment.

Great Opera Hits is a 90-minute performance of much-loved arias from Puccini, Rossini and Delibes in the Joan Sutherland Theatre. It is perfect for first-timers as well as seasoned opera goers.

The Proposal Package is part of the Cultural Attractions of Australia collection of premium cultural experiences.

The package includes two premium tickets to Great Opera Hits, a complimentary drink on arrival and a bouquet of flowers presented on stage. It is priced from $2499 per couple.

Put on your blue suede shoes

The first ever Sydney Elvis Festival is coming to town in 2020. Sydney can finally celebrate The King like never before. Some of the best Elvis tribute artists in the world will perform at the event.

Get carried away by the unbelievable energy of Dean Z, dance to the voice of Elvis with Dwight Icenhower, and sing along with our own big-voiced Jack Gatto and Brody Finlay (who pulls off a classic 1950s young Elvis) as they put their spins on Elvis' hits.

All the performers will be accompanied by TIC (the Tributes in Concert Band), which aims to play each song exactly how Elvis liked it, and most importantly, how he wanted it.

The festival celebrates Elvis throughout the years in a series of five themed shows at the Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL in Sydney, from Friday 9 October through to Sunday 11 October 2020. Tickets are priced from $62.90, with five-show passes available from $264.50.

Desert fine dining celebrates bush tucker

Ayers Rock Resort's exclusive sunset dining experience, Tali Wiru (meaning "beautiful dune" in local Pitjantjatjara), reopens this month for its 2020 season with a menu that celebrates the diversity of Australian native ingredients.

The award-winning gastronomic experience offers an intimate evening of fine dining on a remote sand dune overlooking Uluru, with Kata Tjuta in the distance.

This season's menu features native ingredients sourced from across Australia, including wild-harvested green ants from the Northern Territory's Top End, quandongs from Alice Springs, desert lime and saltbush from South Australia and camel milk from Victoria.

Other stars in these creative dishes include desert oak pods (which are said to taste like pork crackling), pickled muntries (a native cranberry), sea grapes, bunya nuts and kurrajong seeds, which are used in traditional Indigenous baking.

Aside from trying some new bush-tucker flavours, Tali Wiru diners will meet local storytellers who will share stories of their Indigenous culture.

Tali Wiru operates seasonally from 25 March until 15 October 2020 and is limited to just 20 guests each evening. Priced from $380 per person, the four-hour experience is fully inclusive of hotel transfers, the four-course meal with matching premium wines and entertainment.

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