There are few things as miserable as struggling to fall asleep on a long flight. Philip Krim, Casper’s CEO, totally gets it. “I have a bad back,” he tells Fast Company. “And it is aggravated by long flights.”
For the past few months, Casper Labs has been working to improve how people sleep on planes. Many flyers struggle to feel comfortable enough to sleep while in the air–and even if they are able to catch some shut-eye, they leave the tarmac with an achy neck and back. For athletes and businesspeople who travel frequently for work, this compounded lack of sleep can impact how they perform on the job. Casper’s engineers and designers have been thinking about exactly why it’s so hard to sleep well while in the air, and have been tinkering with tools that will solve some of these problems.
Today, we see the first fruits of this research. Casper announces a partnership with American Airlines to provide first, business, and premium economy passengers with a pillow, lumber pillow, mattress pad, blanket, duvet, pajamas, and slippers starting in December.
We actually had an inkling this might be coming. In our story about Casper that appeared in the March issue of the magazine, cofounder and COO Neil Parikh hinted at a potential airline deal. “We’re in the final legs of probably closing some stuff [with an airline],” he told us. “How do you turn a pseudo-average experience of sleeping on a plane into something awesome? Usually that’s going to involve: How do we make the seats better? How do we think about eye masks, duvets, pillows?”
Here’s how Casper hopes to make sleeping on a plane awesome: It has created a duvet inspired by performance outerwear: The fill is temperature regulating and designed to stay fluffy and in place. The pillows use insights that Casper gleaned while developing its own pillow, which has a soft exterior and firm core. The sleep suit and slippers, which have winking eye on them, are supposed to be cozy and fun.
“Part of the challenge of falling asleep on a flight is psychological,” Krim explains. “We wanted passengers to feel safe and happy, because that will help them relax and get into the right frame of mind.”
While Casper has created eight separate items, American Airlines will not use all of them on every flight. The number and combination of products used will depend on things like the length of the flight and the amount of space in the seat.
Casper’s foray into air travel accessories reveals its broader vision as a company. While it started as a mattress brand–and has continued to innovate on that front with its recently released ergonomic mattress–Casper doesn’t want to be associated with a specific product or category, but with the broader concept of sleep. (And they’re not limiting this to humans: Consider its nifty dog bed.)
The American Airlines collaboration will focus on the needs of flyers in upper classes, but what about the rest of us who travel in coach? We arguably need more comfortable sleeping solutions than our posher peers, who have more space and a more elegant cabin. Krim says that Casper will use this partnership to test out these products and see how customers respond to them–with the goal of possibly creating travel products for the wider public further down the line. We’ll be waiting.