Airbus plans to put sleeping bunks into the cargo hold

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Airbus will offer airlines the opportunity to convert part of an airplane’s downstairs cargo hold into sleeping berths using custom-designed ‘lower deck modules’.

The spaces are designed to be interchangeable with a standard cargo container, making it possible for airlines to easily swap out cargo containers for passenger facilities to suit the needs of different routes.

Other possibilities for the downstairs spaces include a lounge or a conference room above the clouds…

… and a family room or ‘medical care zone’.

However, a spokesman for Airbus tells Australian Business Traveller “the modules will not be occupied during takeoff or landing.”

Instead, passengers who have booked a sleeping berth will begin and end their journey in a regular seat and then make their way to the bunk beds during the flight.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last month floated the notion of railway-like sleeping bunks and exercise zones for the airlines’ planned non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York – a daunting exercise for which Airbus is promoting its ultra-long range A350-900 jet, in competition to Boeing’s 777-8.

The cargo compartments will be available from 2020 for the popular Airbus A330 while “offerability of sleeper compartments on the A350 airliner is also being studied.”

“This approach to commercial air travel is a step change towards passenger comfort,” said Geoff Pinner, who heads Airbus’ Cabin & Cargo team.

“We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups.”