In-Flight Bunk Beds: Would You Rather Fly "Horizontally?"

Lufthansa is looking into the idea of providing economy-class bunk beds on its long international flights. From the Daily Mail:

Economy-class passengers have had to settle for being packed into tightly regimented reclining seats for extended periods of travel, which have been blamed for causing potentially fatal blood clots known as deep-vein thrombosis, or DVT, in susceptible individuals.

Until now, airlines have been reluctant to introduce fully reclining seats in economy class because they require more space.

This reduces the number of passengers and decreases profit for the carriers.

But by stacking beds one on top of another, the airline can make use of the normally unused space in the cabin above fliers.

Lufthansa revealed computer-generated pictures of its triple-decker bunk beds as part of a customer survey it conducted among selected customers to see if the idea had wings.

A Lufthansa spokesperson said,
“We are going to analyze the results of the survey and then we will decide whether to proceed or not. But the first results have been very positive.” No word yet on how the bunk beds would be adjusted so that passengers could eat their snacks, or what prevents a shower of crumbs and baby powder and god-knows-what-else from landing on the lower bunks, but whatever. We think it’s a cool idea that needs a lot of work. Does a bunk bed flight appeal to you?

Welcome to sardine air: Airline introduces triple bunk beds in economy [Daily Mail]
(Photo:Daily Mail)


Edit Your Comment

  1. bnet41 says:

    I would so fly this. This would be great for longer stuff. I flew to China a few months ago and I would have loved to have this.

  2. K-Bo says:

    I could see sleeping like that with friends around, but I don’t think I’d sleep well in those close quarters with a bunch of strangers.

  3. Kaien says:

    It appeals, especially if you have to fly often, but I bet some people would be too noisy or frightened during the flights.
    Some of them may just start talking to each other; or there may be some mile-high club thing going on in the background as well.

    It’d probably be more plausible if things were more segregated, but due to space concerns, I’d doubt they’d do such a thing.

  4. acambras says:

    I would love this for long flights.

  5. DeeJayQueue says:

    where does the carry-on luggage go?

  6. humphrmi says:

    Sign me up. I’m already a Lufthansa frequent flier; all the more reason to fly them.

  7. asujosh1 says:

    That would be a welcome method of travel for those long flights to India. Twelve hours in a seat really sucks.

  8. gibsonic says:

    in theory, great idea.

    in practice, nightmare.

  9. xamarshahx says:

    can’t eat, no carry-on, what if u want to sit up for awhile?

  10. jeffj-nj says:

    Ya know, I’m looking at the pictures, and I don’t see why there can’t be a wall on one side of those beds. Either way, yeah, I would totally fly like this. I can’t wait until I can.

  11. markymags says:

    Kind of reminds me of the movie The Fifth Element.

  12. slowinthefastlane says:

    Sweet! Trucker beds!

    That’s when the whores come.

  13. bombaxstar says:

    Flying to the Philippines would`ve been so much easier like this…

  14. Steel_Pelican says:

    How would takeoff and landing work?

  15. Murph1908 says:

    Hell ya.

    “What if you want to sit up for a while?”

    Too bad. How is that any worse than “What if you want to lay down for a while” in the current system? I’d rather be forced to lay down for 8 hours than sit up in a cramped chair for the same amount of time.

    “Where does the carry-on baggage go?”

    Nowhere. They could put a small cubbie hole or netting above your feet to hold your book, MP3 player, snacks, or other small items. What else do you need to carry on anyway?

    I would choose a plane like this on flights as short as 3 hours, understanding the ‘limitations’ addressed above.

  16. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Flat cots that don’t recline. Tiny pillows not washed between flights. No barriers between anyone and anyone else. Have to climb a ladder if you’re in the top bunk and you have to pee. Reminds me of a morgue.

    The suspended animation tubes in spaceships in old science fiction movies looked a damn sight more comfortable than this.

  17. savvy9999 says:

    “Passengers will have access to snacks and water”

    Like a little drip tube and food pellets? Where’s the exercise wheel? Is fresh bedding provided and changed weekly?

  18. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Murph1908: You seriously think I am not going to have a carry-on bag? What universe do you come from? Do airlines never lose luggage there? Do travelers never use laptops there? Geesh.

  19. Keegan99 says:

    I’d love to have this on long haul flights.

    I just flew back from Russia and – while unsuccessfully trying to sleep in my coach seat – wondered why there couldn’t be some bed configuration of beds that would more efficiently and comfortably accomodate customers.

    It looks like Lufthansa is one step ahead already.

  20. Geekybiker says:

    For long flights this would be awesome. I know when I went to australia I would have love this instead of 18 hours cramped in a middle seat. I just wonder how they are going to do movies, etc? If you’re awake for long periods of time, this might feel even more cramped than current economy seats. 2 high bunk beds would allow room to sit up. 3 high wont.

  21. Pelagius says:

    Yeah. I really look forward to having the ass of my fellow passenger hovering inches above my face, to having their stinky feet dangling by my nose and watching the drip-drip-drip from their incontinent kids above me.

  22. Murph1908 says:

    Just noticed everyone on the plane is dressed the same. Add some Nike shoes or some poison Kool-aid, and you have yourself a stereotypical cult suicide.

  23. nwizards says:

    This is a well worn and tested idea used in European trains, drawing on the idea of a couchette, or a very cheap sleeper compartment, usually 6 bunks to a room. It might be disconcerting given American sensibilities about privacy, but traveling in Europe, these were extremely cheap given the exponential improvement yielded in terms of comfort.

  24. Murph1908 says:

    @ Keegan
    Lost luggage doesn’t happen often enough to force me to bring on a carry-on. I fly more than 12 times a year, and it happened to me once about 10 years ago.

    Your laptop can fit in my proposed cubbie above your feet.

  25. RoboSheep says:

    “And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We’re now on full automatic, in the hands of the computers. I have tucked my crew in for the long sleep and I’ll be joining them soon.”

    And everyone knows how that works out…

  26. texasannie says:

    I think it’s a good concept. Will top bunk become the new window seat?

  27. Landru says:

    This would sure be great during those eight-hour waits on the tarmac .

  28. Buran says:

    I imagine it wouldn’t be like this for the whole flight. I recently traveled on the Amtrak Auto Train in a roomette and the seats are seats during the day which share a (too-small) table in the center. At night, they are converted to a bed and a top bunk folds down.

    I’d fly on Lufthansa if they do this — especially if I could get Internet access on the flight, too.

  29. Buran says:

    @RoboSheep: At least, in theory, your plane won’t wind up going through some sort of time travel portal. Theoretically. But I’d stay away from Bermuda…

  30. J. Gov says:

    Only if noise is minimized and the only dual-occupancy allowed is with a child or pet. But then, even if I couldn’t sleep due to light/lack of doors/insufficient comfort, I’d be quite happy to lie there and read.

  31. FLConsumer says:

    If they set it up like any of the capsule hotels in Japan, I’m game.

  32. Jon Parker says:

    According to my girlfriend, I both snore and fart in my sleep.

    So yeah, I’m all for this.

  33. The worst part about flying from the US to Europe is how you leave in the evening but arrive at about 7 or 8 am. With the excitement and the time change, it’s hard to get to sleep in those upright sardine chairs.

    I would love to have a chance to lie flat- it seems comparable to a couchette in a European night train. I’d take this option to cross the atlantic anytime.

  34. Crim Law Geek says:

    I was flew as a (mock) patient on a C-130 flying a MedEvac mission. For this flight the plane had 2 columns of cots, each with 5 rows, stacked 5 high. I was on one of those cots when we took off on our first leg, and let me tell you, as someone who has flown on all kinds of planes and 5 legs on a MedEvac helicopter, that takeoff was my scariest in-flight experience, and the only time I came close to vomiting during flight.

    It is very unsettling to be strapped to a cot with no view of a window (C-130’s have something like 10 windows total in the cabin) during take off, not knowing if the plane is actually moving or not.

    Another time I was a mock MedEvac patient (also on a C-130). The loadmasters put me in a cot underneath a 250+ pounds girl. Her cot dipped to the point where maybe I had 6 inches between my body and hers. We didn’t fly in this particular exercise, but the scenario would have involved approximately 20 hours of flight time. My hats go off to the troops who have to endure a trip from Iraq like that, some while grievously injured. Personally, I would never be a passenger on any airline that forced me to lie in a cot.

    //Civil Air Patrol FTW

  35. Sidecutter says:

    Anyone else read this and only hear “Now we can pack even more of you into the same plane, and we don’t have to feed you on that 13 hour flight anymore, either!”?

    I concur with other points too. What if I want to sit up? What if I want to use my laptop or play a handheld game (with headphones, of course)? Not everything in the world is comfortable, or possible, to do lying on your side or back…

  36. jmschn says:

    I’m waiting for the Boeing Dreamliner!

  37. gibsonic says:

    and i repeat…

    in theory, great idea.

    in practice, nightmare.

    the only way this could really work would be to provide more space and privacy but this would complete undo the reason for wanting to stack customers instead of giving full reclining seats.

    just make long international or cross country flights with a optional seating section that has full reclining seats. Not first class, but something of an enhanced coach or business class. This would cost a little more and the demand would be high, but still some people are always looking to save a buck and they can continue to use regular seats with limited reclining ability.

  38. timmus says:

    How effective will this be with a cabinful of sugar-dosed toddlers and kids all around you?

  39. duncanfj says:

    Come on guys, read everything before commenting. The seats recline flat after take-off (look in the pciture). You won’t be lying flat for take-off or landing, and will probably be able to sit up during the flight when you want.

  40. bbbici says:

    In beds people are likely to take their shoes off– unpleasant. And people can’t control their farts when they sleep.

    Fat people will not be able to fit in the beds nor purchase two “seats” to accomodate their bulk.

    major personal injury liability issue from people falling off ladders and top beds.

    I think one of the best solutions is an arrangement where passengers are standing, or have a perch to lean on.

  41. rbb says:

    All these comments and no one has mentioned the safety aspect?

    How the heck are you going to evacuate the plane in an emergency when the people are stacked 3 high and horizontal. Getting everyone up and out of those cots will take considerably longer than seats.

    That photo reminds me of the photos of steerage class in the old oceanliners.

    No thanks.

  42. Crazytree says:

    upsides: more comfortable sleeping

    downsides: old men farting in your face, inability to escape a burning wreck, etc.

  43. Maulleigh says:

    This would be GREAT!! I love it.

  44. queen_elvis says:

    I would totally pay extra for this. The last time we went to Europe, not even Tylenol PM could get me to sleep, leaving me loopy and jet-lagged. Good thing the Irish are so kind.

    If only the people on this site spent as much time complaining about bad customer service to CEOs as they do complaining to each other about children.

  45. forever_knight says:

    @rbb: let’s be realistic: most plane evacuations are in body bags. so not much of an issue!

  46. Anitra says:

    This is a great idea for long-distance flights. Safety might be an issue, but the other issues raised here (stinky feet, farting, kids) are the same issues you’d run into on any flight; and I’d rather deal with them comfortably lying down. I also have long legs, and I would LOVE to be able to stretch them out on a long flight.

    In addition, those bunks look more vertically roomy than the ones I had to deal with when I used to go sailing as a teenager. You might not be able to sit up all the way, but it would certainly afford you a larger range of positions than the current sardine-seats.

  47. hollerhither says:

    @Sidecutter: Yes.
    @AnitraSmith: Agreed, though, and let’s add “mouth breathers with halitosis” and “people who kick seats” to that list.

    I wish that the airlines’ intentions were truly to provide long-haul passengers with more comfort, but I fear it will be sold to us that way, yet executed in the most uncomfortable, least appealing, most profitable manner possible.

    The best solution would be to fly less, but that would involve getting a different (less well-paying) job and convincing all family members to move within driving distance.

  48. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    It looks like an old style Pullman car, the ones you see in pre-war movies.

  49. MalichiDemonos says:

    I dont fly but if i did i would prefer to be sitting up if the jet had to crash land. Those beds look like theres not much room to lay on. That would have to be clostrophobes nightmare.

  50. Smackdown says:

    I would just like to point out that farting, drooling, snoring, all other manner of horrible beasts are still a problem, even now, on planes, because people still sleep, they just do it sitting up.

    I am all for it, as long as the seat goes up at my will, and not the will of the airline. I don’t want to have an imposed bedtime.

  51. theblackdog says:

    I would totally be on this, especially when I fly across the country or internationally. I hate sitting for long periods of time as it is, and I’d be a lot more comfortable laying down.

  52. JohnMc says:


    I saw the picture and all I could think of were vignettes from two movies — ‘Coma’ or ‘Holocaust’. I mean look at it. It looks like something right out of the camps. I could imagine that once you got snuggled in the camp guard, er stewardess, would come along and gas you with some sort of knockout emission.

    Think of the uplift charges they could apply. Oh, steel wire hard on the back? A mattress is $5 extra. Oh, want sheets, that’s $4. Pillow? $2. Chocolate and a turn down — priceless.

    Interesting that Lufthansa is the one suggesting this, if you get my parallel. Think I will pass.

  53. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @thirdgen: Yeah I can tell you from experiance I was flown out of Saudi Arabia on a Nightingale flight which was a DC-9 on a stretcher, If I hadn’t been so heavily sedated I would have totally been sick on takeoff and turbulance….killer when your laying down. I think its a good idea but needs serious work. @JohnMc: nice… they can have “flying makes you free” over the hatch.

  54. jamesdenver says:


    Actually the Holocaust was a genocide against Jews and other groups spurred by Hitler. The German air force also conducted medical experiments while keeping political prisoners in deplorable conditions while propandizing it to the press.

    This discussion is about a potential option for in flight sleeping on long haul flights utilizing triple bunk beds on the lower portion of an aircraft.

    I don’t believe the flight crew would have any incentive to kill you. Also these are most likely international flights, hence the U.N. would probably get involved should passengers wind up dead of missing upon landing in other countries.

  55. Joe_Bagadonuts says:

    @thirdgen: I did a few of those mock trauma patient on C-130’s in my days w/ CAP as well. Definitely cramped and at times very uneasy (turbulence, takeoff, etc), but could work if you’re a heavy sleeper and/or drugged up and out of it. Probably not for me.

  56. formergr says:

    For those who didn’t RTFA, the section of the article I pasted down below pretty much addresses most of the concerns commented on so far. That being said, on a night flight I would *totally* do this. I’ve flown transatlantically in coach my whole life, and this would rock.

    Lie-flat (though small) bed + Ambien CR = well-rested upon arrival and no boredom

    From the article:
    “The bunk beds would be transformed from seats after take off and would cost around £120 more than a flexible economy fare.

    They would be linked to the flight entertainment system but would be unlikely to include a meal service, other than a light snack and bottled water from the buffet, because passengers booking them would be anxious to get their heads down to sleep as quickly as possible.

    The bunk beds would have to be approved by the international safety authorities, who would consider ease of evacuation in an emergency.”

  57. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    Those of you who are worried about farts, must never have shared a seat next to a “stereotypical” European who does not believe in frequent bathing. A fart would be a breath of fresh air!

    Funny stuff aside, I would be booking all my flights to Europe on Lufthansa. I already book most of them with Lufthansa anyway, as their economy section is better than anything else I’ve flown.

    I don’t mind Europe, I just mind getting there. I can’t sleep in a seat that is only 15 inches wide, and my legs cramp. I THINK I could probably handle laying down for the majority of the flight – it sure has to be better than sitting on your a$$ with no elbow room for 10 hours.

    Video Ipods are a must for an international traveler who wants to watch movies because the inflight movies suck. As long as there is a power plug to charge your Ipod, I could deal with this AND probably get some sleep. I certainly think this is worth mocking up and trying out. I think it would catch on.

  58. superbmtsub says:

    The girlfriend aint gonna be happy if I flew on those things and there was a chick next to me. :D

  59. Shadowfire says:

    Put some curtains on them so I can have some privacy, and I’m all over it.

  60. Buran says:

    @thirdgen: The picture does say “converted after takeoff” at least. That doesn’t work with cases where you have to lie flat for takeoff, but if at all possible I’m sure this will be addressed.

    Plus, 747s do have a lot more windows than a C-130 (and I know exactly how C-130s are laid out).

    Your problem was that your ears swore you were moving but your eyes said you were not. Instant airsickness. I think some Dramamine before boarding would have helped you.

  61. arachnophilia says:

    it looks vaguely like one of those old slave ships.

    but it seems like a good idea. it’s gotta be more comfortable than those stupid coach seats.

  62. welsey says:

    I don’t know – I find air travel so unpleasant how it is now I can’t imagine anything could really make it that much worse. I think being able to sleep comfortably could be really good – I can never figure out how people sleep in planes at all, it’s so fucking uncomfortable. Of course the fact that flying terrifies me probably also has something to do with my inability to sleep on flights.

  63. RandomHookup says:

    An Army barracks with wings.

  64. m.ravian says:

    my claustrophobia kicked in just looking at that picture.


  65. TechnoDestructo says:


    Oh god…that gave me a horrifying thought.

    It’s bad enough being crammed between two hugely fat people on a flight (NEVER AGAIN. YOU CAN BUY TWO FUCKING SEATS, YOU CANNOT USE PART OF MINE!)

    What if you’re under one? It might not be as uncomfortable, but it could be frightening. I mean how strong are these bunks? Would they bend or creak under 450 pounds of flab?

    Also, I think in a crash I’d want to be in the center row. I mean, I’d rather take the impact feet first than taking it in the ribs.

  66. synergy says:

    Wouldn’t this be like flying coffins?

  67. synergy says:

    On the other hand, it might make joining the Mile High Club easier.

  68. It could be like that scene in 5th Element where they just make you lay down and then knock you out for the trip, so you’re well-rested when you get there, plus you’ll never know it if you crash.

  69. Maurs says:

    How likely is the airline to accommodate a 6’5″ traveler like me? I foresee flying in the fetal position.

  70. Soldier_CLE says that Hideo Kojima has to make MGS till the day he dies! says:

    Maybe it’s morbid and/or insensitive of me to say this, but I’d be more than humored to see an Overeater’s Anonymous convention take up a good portion of this section, while having them hog up all the snacks at what I’d assume would (of some reason in my head) a snack machine, complete with soda vendor…

    …maybe then would I take full use of the alcohol onboard…

  71. Musician78 says:


    I agree. I would never go for this. Plus, you know that the bed and pillows aren’t going to be cleaned and disinfected between flights. Nasty. Nasty. Nasty. *Shudders*

  72. Pelagius says:

    @JohnMc: Actually, I was thinking “slave ship”. Hopefully they won’t tie you to your bed (or leave the seatbelt sign lit the entire flight) and make you lie in your own excrement. Well, maybe only on Northwest…

  73. SJActress says:


    And how is a bed that isn’t disinfected different than a seat that isn’t disinfected exactly? I’m sure they’d use the same type of material they use for seats. If you’re afraid of the pillows, bring your own. The pillows they USED to give out on planes weren’t clean either.
    Besides, germs/bacteria don’t survive long on soft surfaces. They prefer hard surfaces.

  74. AvatarZ says:

    I would love this for any flight longer than 3 or so hours. Does Luftansa have more info about this (aka: food and takeoff?)

  75. mathew says:

    I’d pay extra for this option.

  76. Marce says:

    What do you do with the people who are so acrophobic, even small heights (under five feet) are enough to cause nervousness if not outright panic? What about when there are only top-bunk “seats” left?