Airbus to Start Putting Beds In the Cargo Hold

If sleeping on an airplane is not your strong suit, Airbus might have a solution for you. Airbus, the European airplane maker, partnered with design firm Zodiac Aerospace to create beds for passengers that will be—wait for it—in the cargo hold.

Now, before you picture yourself squished against passenger luggage, the mock ups show something different altogether; instead, you’ll see rows of double-decker beds that have crisp white duvets on them alongside bookshelves, stools, and ample lighting.

What’s more, these passenger “modules” are interchangeable with regular cargo containers for plane turnarounds, so this new plane addition shouldn’t add waiting time to your normal flight routine. The one major downside, however, is there are no windows down below, so it might be an issue for those who are claustrophobic or simply love the views a window seat offers.

The Airbus announcement says this seating—or shall we say “bedding”—option will be available to airlines by 2020.

Many sleep experts have spoken about the downfalls of sleep on planes, especially in economy seats, noting that even if you see everyone sleeping around you, that doesn’t mean they’re sleeping soundly:

“Don’t be too jealous,” explained Dr. Ellenbogen, Chief of Sleep Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. “They’re not sleeping well. More likely, they’re chugging along in shallow states of drowsiness and frequently disrupted light stages of sleep.”

That’s why this new advancement in plane travel is a big step forward for passenger comfort and health. Geoff Pinner, Head of Airbus Cabin & Cargo Programme said:

“This approach to commercial air travel is a steep change towards passenger comfort. We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups.”

Still, we have a ways to go until 2020. And we still don’t know how much a cargo bed will cost. Until then, David F. Dinges, the Chief of The Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, suggests that a seat reclining 40 degrees or more allows for more restful sleep. (Yes, that probably means a business or first class ticket.)

If you’re in economy, he suggests making yourself as comfortable as possible, citing temperature as a “big deal.” So that means taking off your shoes and socks, wearing breathable clothes, and maybe even using a sleep mask. Another good tip is to emulate your normal bedtime routine on the plane, especially if that includes reading, meditation, and a cup of tea.  

Featured image: @airbus on Instagram

Laura Schwecherl

Laura is a journalist with nearly a decade of experience reporting and covering topics in the health, fitness, and wellness space. She is also a marketing consultant, where she works with impact-oriented startups to build marketing and editorial strategies. Outside of work, you can find her reading Murakami novels, writing amateur poetry, or trail running in her hometown, Boulder, Colorado.

Leave a Comment