Yes. You read that right.
If you're like me, you probably fly economy, and the only time you ever get a glimpse of a bed inside a plane is when you're making the long, hard slog towards your seat in 84B. Your seat is usually so far back in fact, you sometimes think can smell the exhaust fumes.
But last week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, economy fliers got a bit of good, if not quite glamorous, news. One of the world's largest plane builders, Airbus, and cabin builder Zodiac Aerospace are going to start building beds for hire. Full-size, lay-out-flat beds—no business or first-class ticket required.
Instead of a lay-flat seat at the front of the plane, us passengers in cattle class will have the option to pick a bunk bed downstairs with the baggage. According to Zodiac, the "seats" could be ready as early as 2020 for the Airbus A330 plane, which is slated to be operated by Delta, Etihad, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines.
Us Aussies could be seeing the unique seating arrangement on our local flights too, as Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, recently hinted at exploring the idea by mentioning "a new four-class structure, with part of the cargo hold utilised for beds."
The idea of having beds in the cargo hold actually isn't new; large airliners like the A330 and A380 already have bunk beds downstairs, where crew members rest during long-haul flights. These spaces are cramped, to be sure, but they offer the allure of lying down flat during flight. And let's be honest, most of us would lie on the floor of the aisle to get some sleep, if only the cabin crew let us.
What is clear is that airlines may swap the modules in and out depending on where a particular plane is heading, and based on passenger and baggage requirements. "The new passenger modules will be easily interchangeable with regular cargo containers during a typical turnaround," Zodiac said in a statement, meaning the beds could be removed for short trips and installed for those long flights back to Europe once your working holiday visa has expired.