Lonely Planet Writer

You could be sleeping in a bunk bed in economy on a flight in the future

The idea of sleeping while lying down in economy is the dream scenario for economy passengers, and it has come a step closer to reality thanks to one company’s vision around turning lower deck space into sleeping and relaxation compartments.

Airbus want to turn lower deck space into sleeping and relaxation compartments. Image: Airbus/Zodiac Aerospace

Aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, recently announced plans to turn plane cargo holds into passenger areas, complete with sleeping and relaxation zones. It has partnered with aviation equipment supplier, Zodiac Aerospace, on the project, which would see cargo holds on the A330 aircraft for long-haul flights having capsule-style beds and sofas as well as lounges for economy passengers.

The concept is one that has proved to be attractive to airlines for many years now. Back in 2007, German airline Lufthansa revealed that it was considering the use of triple-decker bunk beds on its Airbus A380, but 11 years later, there have been no further developments in that area that we’re aware of.

A potential lounge on the lower deck of the A330. Image: Airbus/Zodiac Aerospace

Airbus, which has its corporate headquarters in Leiden, the Netherlands and its main office in Toulouse, France, hopes that its concept will enter the development phase by 2020. It would potentially see lower decks being equipped with passenger sleeping berths, as well as children and family zones, medical zones, conference areas and general lounges. The new design, if approved, would be rolled out across the manufacturer’s A330 fleet, and potentially on A350 aircraft in the future.

A potential children and family zone on the lower deck of the A330. Image: Airbus/Zodiac Aerospace

Airbus has been working on the concept for more than a decade, and says that airlines could potentially rent out the spaces to a number of passengers in different time slots throughout the flight. “This approach to commercial air travel is a step change towards passenger comfort,” says Geoff Pinner, head of Airbus Cabin & Cargo Programme. “We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups.”