The thing about air travel is, well, it kind of blows. No matter which airline you’re flying, odds are your seat will be too small (and too expensive) to ever make you feel like you’ve gotten a good deal. And then there’s the matter of the other passengers — even if you’re in good spirits, there’s no telling if the person next to you will be. All in all, we can agree that flying makes people feel bad more than it makes them feel good.
And if that’s true for you, the passenger, we can only imagine what it’s like for the crew. Getting drinks, meeting demands, and otherwise keeping the plane safe can be an exhausting job. So just where does the crew go when it’s time to take a rest?
As it turns out, there’s a whole secret realm on some planes, dedicated to giving the crews the rest they deserve. On longer flights, there actually is some respite for the crew to sit back and relax — and funnily enough, it might even be better than your seat. It’s cool though: These people work incredibly hard, and deserve all the relaxation they can get.
When you’re flying, you’re probably not thinking about much else besides the views.
Especially if you’ve got a window seat: Who can argue with a view like this?
And otherwise, you’re not thinking about the crew.
Admittedly, although we appreciate the work they do, we’re not super aware of where the crew is on their break. After all, we have our own comfort to worry about — and on a plane, it’s pretty much impossible to get comfy, isn’t it?
Have you ever noticed a sign like this on the plane?
Maybe you’ve overlooked it before, but on larger planes that take longer flights, there’s always an area like this for the crew to take a rest. And just like other places on the plane, there are plenty of regulations.
But where is this “crew rest area” the sign speaks of?
Where could they possibly fit a space for the crew to rest on a plane that’s already packed to the gills?
Like many others, the Boeing 777, for example, puts the crew compartment above the passenger area, just behind the cockpit.
Turns out, they’re hidden somewhere on the plane. These spaces are small, windowless compartments with just enough room to stretch out after hours of pushing drink and food carts up and down the aisles. Think of it as a sanctuary for your hard-working flight attendants.
That’s only on the Boeing 777, though.
On planes like the Airbus A350, the crew’s quarters are up top on the back of the plane. So, while you’re napping your way across the Atlantic, chances are some of the crew are slumbering above you.
Pilots often have them, too.
It’s not super glamorous, but on models like the Boeing 777, pilots get their own bunks with a first-class chair, and room for a closet, sink, and bathroom.
Judging by the cramped accommodations you’re sitting in, it’s surprising that there’s this extra space on the plane.
But don’t get too salty about it: The staff’s quarters are equally as cramped as yours. Across the board, plans just simply aren’t about comfort and luxury.
The crew’s bunks are typically about six feet long and two and a half feet wide.
In other words, this isn’t really a good space to party or socialize. It’s basically just large enough for the crew to sleep if they need to.
There isn’t much privacy, either.
There is a retractable screen to separate the bunks, but for the most part, the crew has to be okay with sharing communal space.
And although there’s not much to them, they have certain amenities to make the crew’s flights more comfortable.
They usually have access to a reading light, hooks, a mirror, and a small personal storage space.
So how do they get into their somewhat private space to take a rest?
On the Boeing 777, there’s an overhead bin that looks like any other. However, a ladder extends from the bin down into the cabin, and the crew can just climb up. It’s like a tree house, except for, you know, in a plane.
There’s also a hidden staircase.
Like something out of your wildest mile-high Harry Potter fantasies, there’s also a secret narrow staircase behind a door that crew members walk up.
On the Airbus A380, for example, there’s a special hatch that leads to the crews quarters.
At this point, we’re convinced that we’re always going to be looking out for this secret hatch whenever we fly.
At the bottom of the stairs from that hatch is a row of bunks that looks like a submarine’s quarters.
It’s almost like a military barracks — but it definitely seems roomier than the one on the Boeing 777, doesn’t it?
Then there’s the matter of the sheer amount of staff that long flights require.
Flights over 12 hours require total pilot and crew changes — we’re talking two shifts of eight or nine people, swapping out at any given time. That means that these spaces have to have a lot of bunks.
This Airbus A380 stacks them three-high to fit in nine people at once.
We’re just wondering if the flight attendants fight over the top bunk. We know we would.
And every once in awhile, in fancier planes, the crew quarters look downright amazing.
Honestly, this set up looks cozier and more spacious than some Manhattan apartments.
But no matter how luxurious or spartan the crew’s quarters happen to be, one thing is for certain.
If you’re in economy, their seats are definitely better than yours.