Airbus apparently didn’t get the memo that air travel is only supposed to get more cramped and uncomfortable year after year. Instead of designing even tinier seats, the company has revealed plans to create swappable modules that turn a plane’s cargo hold into spacious flying dorm rooms packed full of comfy-looking beds.
As a six-foot-two-inch tall passenger, I’m rarely able to fly without a painful leg cramp, let alone catching a few moments of shuteye. Even the fold-flat seats in first class cabins are nowhere near as comfy as your bed at home, but in a couple of years it’s possible that could change. Airbus is working with another company, Zodiac Aerospace, known for its design of sleeping quarters for airline crew, to develop what it’s calling ‘lower-deck modules’ to repurpose the space under the passenger cabins of Airbus’ A330 and A350 XWB airliners.
Comfortable berths where passengers can stretch out and sleep through an entire long-haul flight aren’t the only options being considered. Other outrageously optimistic concepts include a playroom for kids, spacious conference rooms, bars and lounges, and even a sick bay with doctors available via teleconference. Just picture it: Flight crews never again having to ask if there’s a doctor on the flight in an emergency.
The modules will apparently be engineered to be as easy to install and swap as the cargo containers that are currently used by many aircraft to expedite the loading process, and without delaying a plane’s turnaround time which would add to operating costs. But that leads to the big question here: How much would a bed like this actually cost a passenger?
Airlines are always trying to maximise profits, and stuffing a plane’s belly full of cargo is a good way to squeeze the most cash out of every flight. It’s safe to assume these modules will reduce a plane’s cargo capacity, so will the lost revenue be passed onto passengers with exorbitant ticket prices for a flying bed? Given most airlines now charge you just to bring a suitcase along, these sleeping berths are probably going to be an incredibly pricy upgrade.