Airbus plans to put sleeping bunks into the cargo hold

Airbus plans to put sleeping bunks into the cargo hold

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."

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Simon Coveney


    10 Apr, 2018 09:23 pm

    Very impressive plan from the people in Toulouse. The interchanagability with regular cargo containers makes this far more attractive from a permanent configuration.

    I would, obviously, like to see how it will look and function in practice. I’m sure the beds can be made more comfortable than the futon-like mattresses shown in the mock up photographs.
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  • Horizon360


    10 Apr, 2018 10:05 pm

    It would be interesting to see the economic rationale behind this. After all, these modules would be replacing paid cargo. I wonder at what prices it becomes economically viable?
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  • StudiodeKadent


    10 Apr, 2018 10:30 pm

    Presumably they would be used on flights where too much cargo can't be carried, but the space could be repurposed to offer upcharge and lightweight sleeping bunks (for example)
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  • Horizon360


    10 Apr, 2018 11:42 pm

    That's a good point. However it raises even more questions. At what price point do they charge for the sleeping bunks? Too cheap and it doesn't make economic sense for the airline. Even worse if the price point was relatively low it might cannibalize sales of business class seats. Too expensive and people won't go for it. And would they charge per flight or per hour? They would need additional personnel to manage that. Additional bedding / cleaning equipment if they decide to charge per hour as new customers come in. What about emergency evacuation?
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  • John Leslie


    11 Apr, 2018 03:35 pm

    I would guess that the price would need to be somewhere between business and first.
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  • Steve987


    13 Apr, 2018 12:15 pm

    I actually think this is future PE.

    Seat “on deck” would be economy, with bunk bed below providing the sleeping option. Clearly suboptimal compared to business where everything is on deck. Price point could get pretty close though. May even be a 5th class of its own.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    11 Apr, 2018 02:17 am

    How will passengers move between the upper and lower decks in flight?
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  • Michael McMillan


    11 Apr, 2018 03:25 pm

    Escalator of course!
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  • John Leslie


    11 Apr, 2018 03:33 pm

    Stairs do be the logical way 🙄
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  • Daniel


    7 Jun, 2018 09:22 am

    I want a slide or a fireman's pole :-D
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  • Jason


    11 Apr, 2018 02:43 am

    I'd be surprised if many airlines went for this model, mainly because the cargo space generally commands a much higher premium and some of that is already taken up by the cabin crew rest area (12 bunks accessed from doors three right on most airlines).

    Emirates is an exception. Not all of EK's A380's have cabin crew bunks as they have a large enough fleet to dedicate some aircraft to shorter european sectors where bunk rest isn't required. Unlike most A380 operators who only use them on their longest routes. On EK's A380's that DO have cabin crew bunks they are actually on the main deck at the back of the aircraft replacing a bunch of economy seats. The belly of their aircraft are instead dedicated to cargo and water tanks for the F class shower.

    Several A330/340 operators have interchangeable cabin crew bunk modules that are fitted in the cargo hold on only those sectors that require bunk rest. Apparently these can be switched over with normal cargo within 45mins.

    I guess if the passenger bunk model is in a rapidly interchangeable module as the article suggests it could be used on some routes that would have a lower demand/premium for cargo.
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  • petercr


    11 Apr, 2018 03:43 pm

    Cooper, crew rest areas are above the pax seating in most cases... EG 787, 777, 747 even A350 and A380 (although I think this has downstairs too)
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  • Richard Burgess


    12 Apr, 2018 02:09 am

    Cooper81 is 100% correct. Airbus crew rest are typical below while Boeing is up. I’ve worked many of both aircraft types incl 330s, 340-300 and 600, 74s. And they’re a removable “container” so some airlines don’t even have them on Airbus. Virgin Atlantic 330s have zero crew rest they were simply never ordered.
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  • Dean


    11 Apr, 2018 07:17 am

    Awesome idea for ultra long haul flights, imagine having a kids club similar to a cruise ship or resort, would improve the flight experience for parents and nearby passengers
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  • apacau


    11 Apr, 2018 09:17 am

    Typically the ultra-long haul flights, where such an option would be most attractive to passengers, are those where cargo can be limited due to weight restrictions. So it could be a win-win.
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  • Graham HUNTER


    11 Apr, 2018 02:59 pm

    Seriously, folks, I'm pretty sure this was first mooted on April 1 - i.e., it's an April Fools joke.
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  • Gerard Forsayeth


    11 Apr, 2018 03:39 pm

    Lock all the kids down there...
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  • David Wilkins


    11 Apr, 2018 03:46 pm

    I tend to agree with Hirizer. The cargo hold height is only 60 inches/160 cm and there isn't room to swing a cat yet alone hold conferences inside an individual container. Totally impracticable. Some airlines have submarine berth type CCRF containers but these aren't suitable for commercial paying passengers...

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  • Rocket88


    11 Apr, 2018 05:26 pm

    If it is a serious proposal i can't see anybody spending a whole journey apart from landings and take-off, for example from SYD to JFK stuck in a bunk in a cargo hold with no windows no matter the cost. Must more to the design than what we have been shown.
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  • Donovan May


    11 Apr, 2018 06:13 pm

    Hmm, no windows.... claustrophobia anyone?
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  • moa999


    11 Apr, 2018 06:14 pm

    Airbus already have a few aircraft with downstairs toilets.
    That's a smarter move - not used during takeoff or landing either, and more seats upstairs
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  • timgeoy


    12 Apr, 2018 03:08 am

    What if the fasten your seatbelt sign comes up?
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21 Jul, 2018 12:22 pm

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Which Qantas lounges can Air New Zealand Airpoints frequent flyer use?

Air New Zealand's Airpoints frequent flyers will enjoy have access to Qantas Clubs around Australia under the newly-forged alliance between the two airlines.

As of October 28, 2018, Airpoints Elite and Gold members booked on a codeshare flight with Qantas will find the doors swing open for them at the two dozen Qantas Club lounges in Australia's capital cities and regional centres. They'll also be permitted to bring in one guest.

But it won't be as easy as flashing your shiny Airpoints card, as the following conditions apply:

  1. you have to be travelling on a domestic Qantas flight
  2. it has to be booked under the Air New Zealand codeshare (those flight numbers will be in the NZ7xxx range)
  3. and this must be booked as part of a trans-Tasman booking

This arrangement replaces Airpoints access to Virgin Australia lounges following the dramatic bust-up between the two former allies.

However, there appears to be no Qantas Club lounge access for Koru Club members, nor can AirNZ frequent flyers cool their heels in the more upmarket Qantas Business lounges.

The Qantas / Air New Zealand alliance covers selected flights on the domestic network of each airline, however trans-Tasman and other international flights are excluded from the arrangement.

Read more: Qantas, Air New Zealand alliance will take on Virgin Australia

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • henrus


    20 Jul, 2018 05:31 pm

    Doesn't it seem a bit odd that Koru club won't get access (something that the VA deal provided) . I guess there will be no access for QF Club cardholders in NZ either?
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  • aviation


    21 Jul, 2018 09:27 am

    Correct, it's reciprocal in that QF Club card holders can't use NZ lounges. The VA deal was very unique as they were the only partner lounges Koru members could access without actually flying Air NZ.
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  • Uqsthom6


    21 Jul, 2018 08:05 am

    Looks like air nz ff get the raw end of the deal
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  • aviation


    21 Jul, 2018 08:31 am

    Thanks for the article, however, there are a few errors.
    1. It's not really an alliance, but a straight domestic codeshare agreement. Alliance to me suggests coordination on pricing, schedules, etc, of which is there is none of.
    2. Some codeshare flights on Qantas are in the NZ1xxx range too (namely the triangle routes)
    3. The codeshare flight can be used for any international journey originating in Australia, not just trans-Tasman (i.e. you could fly CBR-SYD-AKL-LAX or MEL-SYD-RAR)
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21 Jul, 2018 12:22 pm

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

What you can expect from Cathay's new business class dining concept

Cathay Pacific will roll out its new 'business class dining concept' this month, with the meal service taking a step closer to a first class experience.

Meals will be individually plated and delivered to passengers by hand rather than by trolley, as the airline adopts more personalised and upmarket approach.

Cathay also expects this will result in a "quieter and calmer cabin environment", especially on late night flights.

Passengers will have a choice between three appetisers and "up to six main course choices" on flights over ten hours in the initial launch of the service to the likes of Chicago (on July 30), London/Gatwick (in August) followed by Frankfurt, Manchester and Washington DC (September); Amsterdam, Paris and Johannesburg (October), Madrid, Brussels and Barcelona (November) and London/Heathrow (December). 

And, being very much on trend, light and healthy 'wellbeing options' feature in every main course.

On flights from Hong Kong the menu will be changed every month, with a quarterly menu refresh for flights to Hong Kong.

Fights from Hong Kong (but not, for now, the return leg) will also see a new range of Hong Kong Favourites inspired by local dishes, such as

  • Hong Kong char siu pork with egg noodles, seasoned soy sauce, spring onion and ginger (shown below)
  • Wok fried seafood in lobster soup with ginger, spring onion, crispy and steamed rice
  • Beef brisket with flat rice noodle soup
  • Mango with pomelo and sago

But before all that eatings starts, business class passengers will notice the new-look menus.

Printed as eight pages on quality paper, they not only detail the meals and drinks available on that flight but include foodie-friendly articles such as 'Anatomy of a Laksa' and feature a local chef revealing their favourite eateries both in Hong Kong and around thr world.

There will also be a breakfast menu card which passengers will complete before hitting the hay, so that they can wake to what the airline described as a "hotel room-service" experience.

However, these are set menus rather than allowing travellers to pick-and-mix from a wide selection of items.

In addition to what's described as 'traditional' Chinese and Western breakfasts, there's also a lighter Continental breakfast plus a minimalist Express breakfast of a piece of pastry and a drink, which can be served 60 minutes before landing for passengers who wish to maximise their sleep.

Refreshments will be revamped as a selection of 'most loved dishes' available throughout the flight as a snack between meals on services to North America and Europe, including the airline's signature burger and popular soup noodles. These will also appear on the main meal menu.

Next year will see Cathay's 'new business class dining concept' extend to medium-distance routes, with plans to include Sydney and Auckland in February 2019 and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide and Perth in May 2019.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • Skipp


    20 Jul, 2018 12:48 pm

    Look forward to the new meal service in business class coming within the next 12 months - it will make a nice change.
    I just hope (for the future) that Cathay Pacific will stop serving the exact same economy class meals in "Premium" economy class.
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  • MissBasset


    20 Jul, 2018 01:34 pm

    Why bother with the white linen tablecloth if they are serving it on a plastic cafeteria tray? The promo pictures show all set up to eat off the tray. Euww.. I will take it all off the tray and set it up like other airlines J class. FAIL for presentation, CX.
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  • mrj


    20 Jul, 2018 02:42 pm

    I recently suggested to Cathay that their business classs food is amongst the worst of all airlines. Interestingly their response failed to mention this planned revamp.
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    20 Jul, 2018 02:57 pm

    I'm really glad they're going back to classy, glossy paper stock for the menus versus the uncoated groundwood paper they switched to a few years back. Now if they would only bring back that trademark chocolate box at the end of the meal...
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  • David Flynn


    20 Jul, 2018 03:25 pm

    I was on CX a few weeks back and the chocolates made an appearance on every flight...
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  • Manjit Sadhwani

    Manjit Sadhwani

    20 Jul, 2018 03:19 pm

    It's about time
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  • HKAus


    20 Jul, 2018 03:41 pm

    CX Catering is bar far the most outdated and leaves an overall cheap and poor guest experience of most International airliners. CX have unfortunately chosen over the last decade to reduce their overheads where guests can see and feel the difference. Personally after 5 years as a Diamond CX member I have moved to competitors; poor catering, moody crew members, consistently delayed flights (due to over use of planes with no margin for delays) and ridiculous pricing have enabled me to now enjoy such operators as KLM, Virgin Australia, Qantas & Lufthansa; all with an overall better "J"Class experience. Interestingly as a result of my change in travel I was dropped to Gold and this year even though I should have dropped another tier, they obviously are trying to get pax like myself back because they extended my gold status.
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  • Rkwm


    20 Jul, 2018 04:39 pm

    It was taken CX far too long to make changes to the atrocious F&B that has annoyed their long term supporters . The plastic cafeteria tray certainly brings the enhancements down a few levels can’t, understsnd who approved this inclusion . Totally agree with HKAus, supported CX for over two decades but over the last two years the deterioration in service , punctuality and value has been palpable.

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  • Tony OBERON


    20 Jul, 2018 04:48 pm

    Looks marginally better - but CX are you seriously going to use a plastic tray? At least put a cloth on the tray - if for no other reasons than hygiene! I’m a germophobe and I cringe to see cutlery sitting on a plastic tray, which cannot be washed at the same high temps as crockery. Lysteria et al here we come.
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    21 Jul, 2018 11:33 am

    I think everyone who travels Cathay agrees that the dining experience had to be upgraded, this looks the goods.
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21 Jul, 2018 12:22 pm

 Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Cartier Santos: the original pilot's watch, reimagined

Very few watches can claim true originality, and the Cartier Santos is among those few.

The Santos made its debut way back in 1904 as a personal timepiece for aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont, making it both the first pilot’s watch and one of the earliest known men’s wristwatches.

The story

As we've previously detailed, the Santos was borne from a request by Brazilian flyer Santos-Dumont, who told his friend Louis Cartier – then a Parisian watchmaker – of the challenge of timing flights using the then-conventional pocket watch, as pilots needed to keep both hands on the aircraft controls.

In response, Cartier designed a large square-faced watch and fitted it to a strap so it could be worn on the wrist – quite a revolutionary concept at the time.

The first commercial Cartier Santos watches went on sale to the public in 1911 with solid gold cases and ultra-thin mechanical movements designed by French clockmaker Edmond Jaeger.

(In order to produce this movement for Cartier, Jaeger worked with Swiss movement manufacturer Jacques-David LeCoultre, a partnership that would lead to the birth of storied brand Jaeger-LeCoultre.)

The enduring design of the Cartier Santos was reimagined in the late 1970s as a luxury steel sports watch, later adding two-tone steel and gold and the now-iconic screwed bezel with exposed gold screws along the bracelet for a modern, industrial aesthetic.

The style

For 2018, Cartier has once again re-invented the Santos.

The distinctive screw-set bezel now tapers at both ends towards the bracelet to create an organic, integrated look.

The satin-brushed case features a wide mirror-polished bevel along its length, extending all the way to the gracefully curved crown guards at 3 o’clock. A square watch the Santos may be, but there’s hardly a sharp edge or straight line to be found.

The case has been slimmed dramatically from previous incarnations of the Santos, allowing this watch to disappear easily under a shirt cuff when needed.

The bracelet is fitted with a new 'QuickSwitch' system allowing for easy swapping with the included tan calfskin strap or Cartier’s alternative crocodile straps, providing some style versatility.

Adding or removing bracelet links has also been made easier with a new 'SmartLink' design which allows the wearer to expand the bracelet during a hot summer’s day without requiring a tool.

While the bezel, case and bracelet have all been modernised, the dial remains classic Cartier. With Roman numerals, a railroad minute-track and heat-blued hands, it’s hard to imagine a more traditional look.

The 2018 Cartier Santos can serve dress-watch and sports-watch duties equally well, and boasts a history that few timepieces can match.

The details

• In-house mechanical movement with automatic winding
• Seven-sided crown set with a faceted synthetic spinel
• Silvered opaline dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal
• Water-resistant to 10 bar (approximately 100 metres)
• Medium version case width: 35.1 mm, thickness: 8.83 mm
• Large version case width: 39.8 mm, thickness: 9.08 mm
• Pricing from A$8,750 for the Cartier Santos Medium in steel, to A$52,500 for the Cartier Santos Large in solid pink gold with matching pink gold bracelet. For stockists, visit

Jason Swire

Jason Swire (Jason Swire)

[email protected] /

Jason Swire is a Sydney-based writer, watch collector and author of 'Timely Advice', a beginner's guide to fine timepieces. His non-watch passions include hi-fi and whiskey, in that order.

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21 Jul, 2018 12:22 pm

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair flicks the switch on free WiFi for European flights

Finnair will launch inflight Internet on its European flights this week, with travellers able to enjoy the high-speed satellite service free of charge during a two-month trial period running through to the end of September.

The Oneworld airline has already outfitted six of its single-aisle Airbus jets with technology provided through partner Viasat, which also provided the backbone for Qantas' Australia-wide WiFi system.

By the end of northern summer some 20 aircraft will be upgraded, with Finnair's entire single-aisle Airbus fleet slated for WiFi by mid-2019.

The system will be available on a gate-to-gate basis, so passengers won't even need to wait for their jet to reach level flight – which will maximise time online for many of Finnair's relatively short European hops.

However, parts of some European routes will present black spots to the satellite network, including above the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, while some restrictions also apply over Latvia, Lithuania, parts of Belarus and Russia.

Over the two-month testing period Finnair intends to "gather information on system functionality and feedback on the overall customer experience."

"In entering the passenger testing phase, we’ll be gaining the critical insights needed to further optimise our service to ensure Finnair customers get a unique experience built around their needs, interests and usage behaviours," explains Viasat vice-president Don Buchman.

The airline has yet to reveal what pricing it will charge for its sky-high WiFi once the trial period ends, although frequent flyers will no doubt hope that some sort of monthly pass is available as an alternative to paying on a per-flight basis.

Finnair already offers WiFi on its long-range 'intercontinental' jets, with the first hour free for business class and Finnair Plus Gold members, then €3 (A$4.70) for three hours or €20 (A$31) for the entire flight. Finnair Plus Platinum frequent flyers are provided with free Internet access for the whole flight.

David Flynn

David Flynn (David)

[email protected] / @djsflynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • eight10man


    20 Jul, 2018 06:19 pm

    Not sure how you can have black spots when using satellite internet.. especially when those black spots happen to be above the sea. Could it be this system is actually and ground-to-ground system maybe?
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  • readosunnycoast


    20 Jul, 2018 10:35 pm

    Just flew BKK>>>HEL, A350 with wifi. Couldnt get a connection of any sort. Just kept message, don’t close the browser. I do hope it gets better for the next lot of passengers
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21 Jul, 2018 12:22 pm


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