Unwilling to spend a small fortune to fly in some of the world’s best first-class airline cabins, but struggle to sleep in economy seats? In the near future, you may be able to drift off in a real bed on a plane for the price of a premium economy ticket—if you’re willing to sleep in the cargo hold.
Airbus and French aerospace company Safran recently won a Crystal Cabin Award for their “Lower Deck Pax Experience” modules that transform a part of the cargo hold into a livable area for passengers with work space, a kids’ playroom—and most importantly—bunk beds for those hoping to catch some sleep on long-haul flights.
Introduced last year at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, the cargo hold bunk bed design moved one step closer to reality after it won the Crystal Cabin Awards “Cabin Concepts” category in 2019. Voted on by a panel of aircraft interior experts and specialists each year since 2007, these awards recognize excellence in aircraft interior innovation on an international level.
While claustrophobic fliers may not love the windowless design, Airbus believes passengers would book if it were priced as a premium economy option. “It depends on an airline to decide to go for it. We are ready, if they decide in the coming months, to deliver in 2021,” Frederic Mazel, cabin product director at Airbus, told CNN Travel.
How the lower deck cabins would be sold would ultimately be up to each airline. For example, some may choose to pair seats in the main cabin upstairs with the added option to sleep in one of the bunks below, while others could opt for tickets downstairs the entire flight.
Other winners of this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards include a new headrest design from the German seat manufacturer RECARO that provides more support for sleeping passengers, as well as seat belt upgrades to Air New Zealand’s Skycouch, which now allow for babies to safely sleep in the full rows that transform into beds. >> Next: How Airline Upgrades Are Bringing Class Back to Economy Class