HomeTravelThe hidden areas of planes where the crew rests

The hidden areas of planes where the crew rests

Editor’s Note — Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel collection that spotlights some of the most fascinating subjects in the journey world. In June, we’re taking to the skies for a take a look at the newest developments in airplane interiors, together with the folks working to vary the means we fly.

(CNN) — There are some secret areas on widebody plane, where the pilots and cabin crew go to relaxation throughout lengthy flights. Passengers cannot entry them underneath any circumstance and so they’re effectively hidden from view.

They’re referred to as Crew Rest Compartments and their location on the airplane varies.

On newer plane, reminiscent of the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A350, they’re positioned above the principal cabin, in the higher fuselage. But on older plane, they may also be in the cargo maintain or just in the principal cabin.

They are available pairs: one for the pilots, which normally sits above the cockpit and infrequently consists of two bunks and a recliner seat, and one other for the cabin crew, normally containing six bunks or extra and positioned above the aft galley, the part at the again of the airplane where meals and drinks are ready and saved.

Like a capsule lodge

Airlines have a say in the configuration of the crew relaxation areas after they buy a airplane, however the principal parameters are set by regulators reminiscent of the Federal Aviation Administration. It mandates, for instance, that the crew relaxation areas ought to be “in a location where intrusive noise, odors and vibration have minimum effect on sleep,” and that they have to be temperature-controlled and permit the crew to regulate lighting.

The bunks (“or other surface that allows for a flat sleeping position”) should be 78 by 30 inches (198 by 76 centimeters) in measurement — tall folks beware — and have a minimum of 35 cubic ft, or one cubic meter, of area round them. There additionally must be a communal space for altering, coming into and exiting that gives a minimum of 65 cubic ft of area.

The crew relaxation space on a Boeing 777 passenger jet.


The finish result’s considerably much like a Japanese capsule lodge: a windowless, cramped, however cozy sleeping area, with energy retailers and a light-weight — in addition to all of the required security gear reminiscent of oxygen masks, seat belt lights and an intercom, amongst others.

“They can be quite comfortable,” says Susannah Carr, a flight attendant with United Airlines who works on Boeing plane together with the 787, 777 and 767.

“They have a padded mattress, an air vent to keep the air circulating and temperature controls so you can keep it cooler or warmer, and we’re provided with linens, usually similar to the ones used in business class on our international flights. I like them — but I’m also only about 5 foot 8 inches, so if you put a 6 foot 4 inch person in there, they might be a little tight,” she says.

But are they higher than a enterprise and even top quality seat?

“In some ways yes, in some ways no,” says Carr. “The bunks can be wider than first class and for me personally, depending on the aircraft, I get more legroom. But it’s a bunk, so you don’t necessarily have the full head space of being in the cabin and obviously you don’t have the privacy either. And if you’re claustrophobic, you can definitely feel that there — it’s an airplane, so you only have so much space to put things. They certainly make use of every inch up there.”

Tucked away

The rest area for the pilots is close to the cockpit.

The relaxation space for the pilots is near the cockpit.


The crew relaxation areas are designed to not entice an excessive amount of consideration from passengers, regardless of where they’re positioned: “A passenger walking by would probably think it’s a closet,” says Carr.

“I won’t go too far into how we access it — it’s secure, I will say that. Occasionally we have people that think it’s a bathroom door and they try to open it, but we just show them the way to the actual restroom instead.”

Behind the door there may be normally a small touchdown and a ladder main upstairs, a minimum of on the newest plane.

“The bunks are either open on the side or one end, so you can crawl in — I sometimes jokingly refer to them as ‘the catacombs,'” says Carr.

On barely older plane, reminiscent of the Airbus A330, the crew relaxation compartment may also be in the cargo maintain, so a staircase would lead down as a substitute. But on even older planes reminiscent of the Boeing 767, the relaxation areas are positioned in the principal cabin, and are simply recliner seats with curtains round them.

“They are very heavy curtains, they block out light and a good amount of sound, but not if you’ve got an energetic crowd on the plane or an upset child. We’ve had passengers open the curtains, looking for something or thinking they’d be going into the galley, so it’s not necessarily the best rest.”

Unsurprisingly, most flight attendants want the overhead bunks to the curtained seats, however the improve is helpful to airways too, who haven’t got to surrender valuable cabin area that can be utilized for passenger seats as a substitute.

Seniority order

A split image of a Finnair A350 cabin crew rest area. On the right is the entrance, which is accessed from the forward galley.

A break up picture of a Finnair A350 cabin crew relaxation space. On the proper is the entrance, which is accessed from the ahead galley.

Aleksi Kousmanen / Finnair

Cabin crew members on lengthy haul flights normally spend a minimum of 10% of the deliberate flight time in the relaxation areas.

“On average, I would say that means about 1.5 hours per long-haul flight,” says Karoliina Åman, a flight attendant with Finnair who works on Airbus A330 and A350 plane. This, nevertheless, can fluctuate relying on the airline and flight time — relaxation time can prolong up to a couple hours.

“Since we don’t have any private area in the aircraft for our lunch or coffee breaks, this rest period is extremely important and helpful for us,” she says.

“This is the moment during the flight when we don’t answer passengers’ calls or do any other task but rest, and let our feet and mind have their break too. The purpose of this rest is to maintain an alert and ready mindset during the whole flight so that if anything unexpected happens, we are ready to take action.”

Not everybody sleeps as soon as in the bunk, nevertheless.

“Usually on an outbound flight from Helsinki I use my rest to listen to some audiobook or read a book since I am coming from home and am well rested. But on an inbound flight from the destination to Helsinki, there might be sleepless nights behind you — for example I have trouble sleeping in Asia — and then during the rest, you usually fall asleep. Waking up from that sleep can be a really harsh experience sometimes if your brain has switched to night sleep mode,” says Åman.

To reach the rest area on this A330 SAS plane, cabin crew head down a small flight of stairs.

To attain the relaxation space on this A330 SAS airplane, cabin crew head down a small flight of stairs.

Philippe Masclet/grasp movies/Airbus

“Jet lag can be a tricky beast,” says Carr, “Sometimes I can unwind and I can sleep, other times my body’s just not ready for a nap. But because we’re on a break, we’re allowed to use our phones, so we could watch a movie on it, or read a book.”

The relaxation areas are closed throughout taxi, takeoff and touchdown, and they’re used based mostly on shifts overseen by the cabin supervisor — or chief purser, in aviation lingo — the cabin crew member who’s in cost of all the others and supervises operations on board.

This particular person normally will get to make use of a particular bunk that’s close to the entrance of the relaxation areas and has entry to an intercom, to speak with the pilots and the relaxation of the crew.

“Everything in our industry is seniority based, from the schedule you fly to the routes you can hold, to your days off,” explains Carr. “The longer you’ve been there, the better the perks and one of those perks is picking your crew break time — we go on seniority order, so the person who’s the most senior on the flight gets to choose whether they prefer the first break or the second break, and then you go through the list until everyone has breaks.”

Piloting perks

The relaxation space for the pilots, which is separate from the one devoted to the cabin crew, is near the cockpit. Depending on the length of the flight, there could be as much as 4 pilots on board, however two will all the time be in the cockpit; due to this fact, the pilots’ relaxation space solely has two bunks (and even only one on older plane) but it surely features a seat typically geared up with in-flight leisure, which the cabin crew don’t get. Other than that, the compartments are fairly related.

“I usually sleep pretty well in there,” says Aleksi Kuosmanen, deputy fleet chief pilot at Finnair.

Kuosmanen flies on A330 and A350 plane, and says he prefers the latter’s relaxation space, which is positioned above the ahead galley relatively than in the principal cabin. “It has really good curtains, you can adjust the temperature really well, there’s great ventilation, and it’s more soundproof. You don’t hear anything of what’s happening in the galleys, it’s really quiet and comfortable.”

On this Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the  rest room for crew members is located at the back of the plane.

On this Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the toilet for crew members is positioned at the again of the airplane.

Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images

The subsequent time you are on a long-haul flight, you would possibly need to maintain your eyes peeled for an not noticeable door at the entrance or the again of the airplane — in the event you see a pilot or flight attendant disappear into it, you may need noticed a relaxation space.

But remember that crew members will not essentially be pleased to point out you round, as passenger entry to the relaxation areas is prohibited: “It’s a little bit like Disney — we keep the magic behind closed doors,” says Carr.

“You don’t necessarily want to know that your flight attendants are getting a little bit of shuteye, but at the same time you’ll be happy when we pop up after our little cat nap all fresh as a daisy.”

Top picture: A bathroom for pilots, positioned behind the cockpit of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images



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