Until the 1830s, long train rides meant uncomfortably sleeping sitting up, then sleeping cars began to appear to give long-haul train passengers options to actually sleep in berths and for a few years now, airline passengers able to afford premium seats have enjoyed the ability to sleep in a fully prone position; Until now, airline passengers flying coach, this level of comfort has been financially out of reach.
Airlines consider turning cargo holds into sleeping areas
Now, airlines are considering offering sleeping accommodations in the cargo holds of long-haul aircraft; these compartments which might be available to economy passengers for an additional fare or to rent on an hourly basis.
Airbus leads the way
In a press release this week, aircraft manufacturer Airbus said that it has been discussing the possibility with a number of airlines, but it didn't confirm which carriers were interested. Airbus is proposing to install beds in the cargo decks of its A330 wide-bodied jets; in the past, these areas have been used for crew rest areas. Cleverly, these sleeping cubicles would be easy to exchange with regular cargo containers.
How soon may we expect to see them?
By 2020, Airbus is expecting to develop the concept. As of the end of 2017, Airbus had built 1,390 of its A330 aircraft. Once approved, the new design would be available in all of its A330s; as it happens 150 of the planes were built with the basic structural provision for lower deck facilities. As the manufacturer rolls out its A350s, Airbus plans to add sleeping facilities to its future products. The airline has already received "very positive feedback" from several carriers that were shown mock-ups.
An attractive option for road warriors
For road warriors like our author, the prospect of being able to sleep in berths on flights over six hours is appealing indeed. When these business travelers have meetings shortly after arrival, getting some refreshing sleep during long flights to different continent is a very attractive option. We forecast that all but the budget airlines will embrace this option for their coach passengers. Whatâ€™s next are showers and other facilities to be available on a per-use basis. The key for the airlines will be to price these options low enough to be affordable, yet high enough so that they can make money.
© Copyright 1998-2017 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com
The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. Reprinted with permission