Oct 312016

Due to just how amazingly awesome aerodynamic design development, materials science and aeropropulsion systems have gotten, some airliners can stay in the air for about a day on one tank of gas and fly halfway around the world. This is both great for the passengers, because it gets them their pretty quickly (compared the travel during the other 99.9% of human history) for a reasonable fee; and it sucks, because the passengers are jammed into too-small seats for nearly a full day. But you know who else is on the plane the whole time? The crew. And unlike the passengers, they have *got* to get some sort of adequate rest during the flight.

In order to make sure that the flight crew isn’t either dead on their feet or hopped up on amphetamines during landing, the larger jetliners have sleeping areas for the crew, usually above but sometimes below the passenger cabin.

You will occasionally see click-bait headlines yammering on about the “secret rooms on jetliners you never knew about” or some such (the YouTube videos below dabble in this), even though these rooms are not secret, and a great many people know about them. Sure, the airlines don’t exactly advertise the things… but why would they? If the full load of passengers were fully and actively aware that there are actual *beds* on airplanes, you can bet that on every trans-Pacific flight there’d be at least one drunken businessman belligerently trying to storm the castle.




 Posted by at 12:53 am
  • se jones

    Speaking of airliner stuff:
    this just hit my inbox, an AvWeek video of the new 777X folding wingtip in action.
    Some old timers may remember the original 777 was going to have folding tips as a option, but no airline took them up on it so Boeing dropped the idea.
    But this time it’s for sure and not just an option, the new composite wings have the longest span in the industry and must fold to fit existing airport infrastructure.


  • Thucydides_of_Athens

    I’m a bit less than thrilled with “improved” 737 narrow body jets with the capabilities to fly transcontinental routes.

    Being stuck on a twin aisle wide body for an 8-12 hour flight is one thing, being stuck in a single aisle narrow body…I believe Norwegian Airlines is promising one way tickets on trans Atlantic flights for @ $90. Once that type of service is possible, you can bet getting squished in like cattle is going to be taken to the next level by other airlines trying to compete.

    • George Allegrezza

      Actually my daughter just flew Norwegian JFK-CDG and taunted me that she’s now flown in a 787 before I have. Probably 9-across but still, not a narrow-body.

      I haven’t flown United’s transatlantic 757s but I’m told they are not bad space-wise for what you get.

  • brightlight

    I bet an airline that stuck a pod of these type of beds in the hold could make a mint from the sales. No frills, pack them in type. Even if you don’t sleep being able to lay out for a 9+ hour flight would be heaven.

    • Paul451

      I bet an airline that stuck a pod of these type of beds in the hold could make a mint from the sales.

      Some airlines offer flat-reclining seats (ie, the seats turn into completely flat beds) in “Business Plus” and particularly First Class. But higher seat-prices in those areas allows lower density.

      No frills, pack them in type.

      The problem is evacuation after an emergency landing. Remember, more passengers die from the fire after the crash, than from the crash itself.

      Beds use more horizontal space, so to maintain passenger density in cattle class, you’d need multi-level “bunks” (as in some of the crew beds). There’s no way passengers could climb down from the top “bunk” even remotely as quickly and safely as they can get out of normal seating. And with triple-stack, people trying to get out of their bunks would be tripping over the people climbing out of the middle row. That would massively increase your cabin-evacuation time, and hence your fatality rate.

      Hence you are limited to one layer. And the lower density of beds limits that to First and “Business Plus” classes.

      (Be grateful for this requirement. It has prevented some truly awful ideas from being tried. Such as interleaved forward/backward seating on each aisle. Elevated “bunk” seats. 3/5/3 diagonal seating. Etc etc.)

      That said, it’s kind of a shame. Not only because laying down would be more comfortable (and the bunks would inevitably be more closed off and private than current seating), but filling the passenger compartment with a honeycomb of pods would likely make the aircraft itself vastly stronger than the existing open tubes and thus more likely to stay intact in a crash.

  • Bill H

    Back in the day, If Southwest had flown that plane, they would have shown it with mini-skirted stewardesses having a pillow fight. Here’s an example! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBBCnrxuzk0