Fancy sleeping in the cargo hold? Qantas ponders the future of its planes

The A380 first class seat on Qantas.
Image: Pascal Parrot/Getty Images

It’s always fascinating to think about how plane cabins could be more than just hours of sitting, movie-watching, and interrupted sleep.

Following its first direct, commercial flight Australia to Europe, Qantas chief Alan Joyce told an audience in London that the airline is thinking about using the cargo hold for rest and exercise. 

The comments were made at the Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce, with the recording leaked to Fairfax Media.

“One of the concepts that we have is maybe if we’re not carrying freight you do something lower where cargo is on the aircraft, do you have an area where people can walk? Do you have berths like on a train?” Joyce reportedly said.

“There’s a lot of ‘out there’ thinking that’s going on … I don’t know if in 2022 if there’s another going to be another class but if there is Qantas is likely to be the airline that creates it.”

Qantas has apparently put the ideas to Boeing and Airbus, as it works with the aerospace companies on its ultra long-haul planes, the 777-8X and the A350-900, respectively. 

Joyce’s comments come as the airline examines whether it’s possible to fly longer distances with a full load of cargo and passengers. If it can’t do so, then Qantas would look to see how it can reinvent the cargo space.

Of course, as Joyce denotes, it’s an “out there” idea. The suggestion follows one of many wild thoughts about the future of air travel, especially if they can help travellers get a good night’s rest.

More “out there” ways to fly

In 2007, Lufthansa envisaged an economy “sleeper” class, consisting of triple-decker bunk beds that converted to seats for take-off and landing. A somewhat similar idea came in the form of an elevated suite concept for first- and business-class cabins, also featuring a lie-flat bed.

Upon delivery of the A380s in 2005, Virgin Atlantic envisaged a future where the extra space would be used for “in-flight gyms, beauty salons and casinos.” 

That predictably hasn’t come to fruition, although Emirates pulled through with its shower suite in its A380 first class, and Etihad’s ultra-luxe “The Residence.” Even then, these cabins are still a pipe dream for most of us. 

You’re better off hoping for improved versions of those travel pillows that go around your neck instead.

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