Not April Fools: Airbus creating cargo hold sleeping berths

I'd seen this on a few sites and honestly just assumed it was lingering re-shares of an April Fool's joke. Apparently Airbus is looking at replacing some of the cargo hold modules with sleeping berths. The A330 will be the first to get them, since it already has a staircase going down to the crew rest area. The one big downer here is that the ceiling height in the proposed module is 5'4" (162 cm). Hopefully the ceiling will be padded!
There's lots more info and pictures over at TPG, but if they can manage to get this past all of the various safety agencies, it might make for some interesting new options. I wouldn't mind an Economy seat on a long flight if, for example, I had a 6 hour nap downstairs in the middle of it. But it does raise a few questions:
  • What's the story with bed and linen sanitation?
  • What about bedbugs?
  • Isn't that space going to feel super claustrophobic?
  • With the privacy those rooms provide, won't people end up doing all kinds of things I wouldn't want to sleep next to?

  • How do you evacuate in an emergency?
  • What about disabled people?
  • No one ever deployed the 747-8's sleeping berths, what's so different about these that overcomes those objections?
    mockup of a 747-8 with sleeping berths (click to enlarge)
All of that said, every time there's a major innovation on the creature comforts in the air, it's only a matter of time before some minor calamity increases fuel prices and the airline bean counters start figuring out ways to yank out all of the fun stuff and shove in more seats. I've heard more than one person over the years make the joke about removing seats and "stacking people like cord wood" and it wouldn't shock me at all if someone came up with an "Economy Minus" that does exactly that with this module.


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