This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Just after arriving in London on the Perth-London inaugural, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made news by discussing the idea of having sleeping berths and exercise areas in the cargo deck of an aircraft. Now, Airbus and Zodiac have signed a partnership to make that idea a reality by 2020.

Announced in a closed-door ceremony at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the new product would allow airlines to easily add and remove customizable modules into space otherwise reserved for cargo.

A model of the new cargo compartments was unveiled in Hamburg, Germany this morning.
A model of the new cargo compartments was unveiled in Hamburg, Germany this morning.

For the unveiling, the focus was on the idea of a premium “hotel-like” living space. In the model unveiled in Hamburg, there’s only one six-bed sleeping berth while the other modules are dedicated to dining and working areas. However, airlines could choose from a variety of other modules such as lounges, conference rooms, living rooms, combination work/sleep areas and more.

Designed with ease in mind for crew to swap out on an overnight layover, airlines would have the flexibility to choose between cargo and these new living areas — or between different types of modules — on a day-by-day basis.

Image courtesy of Airbus.
Image courtesy of Airbus.

Geoff Pinner, Airbus’ head of cabin and cargo, said after the unveiling that the airlines will be the ones driving the modular innovation. A premium airline would have the option to arrange their cargo deck into a Residence-like living space for ultra-premium passengers.

On the flip side, airlines could install four modules of sleeping berths to be able to provide beds for 24 passengers. And, if six bunks in a roughly 13-by-8-by-5-foot space isn’t enough, Pinner said that the Airbus/Zodiac partnership could develop an even higher-density sleeping berth option.

Airbus and Zodiac representatives at the unveiling ceremony.

To start out, Airbus is developing the product for the Airbus A330. That’s primarily because there are currently around 150 Airbus A330s that already have lower-deck stairs installed for crew rest areas.

Once development and certification of those modules is complete, the aircraft could be able to immediately add modules via existing cargo doors without any retrofit required to install them. Aircraft that don’t have lower-deck stairs already installed would only be required to undergo a retrofit to add the stairs before modules could be used.

After introducing it for the A330, the next step for the partnership would be to adapt the product for the A350. Understandably, as the A380 program is on and off the brink of shutting down, Airbus isn’t planning to adapt this idea for the superjumbo at this time.

While this is the beginning of an official relationship, Airbus notes that it already has a full-size mock-up of the concept in its Toulouse innovation center. And, it seems that this mock-up has already been visited by a few airlines. In the press release, Pinner is quoted as saying, “We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups.” When asked for specifics, he noted that it’s too early to share which airlines have already expressed interest.

There’s one major issue that wasn’t addressed in the unveiling: height. With the cargo deck only able to support a module that’s 5 feet and 4 inches in height, there’s not going to be enough room for most passengers to stand up straight. My assumption is that this is going to be a major factor in airlines opting to go more toward sleeping berths rather than lounges and other premium spaces.

Featured image courtesy of Airbus.

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.