Could Airlines Replace Overhead Bins With Beds?

Long-haul flying comes in many different flavors. On one hand, some airlines offer excellent first and business class products. On the other, economy class can be a grueling long-haul experience. But, what if airlines took out overhead bins and instead added mounted beds for passengers?

Overhead bins in cabin
Could airlines replace overhead bins with beds? Photo: Hi Fly

Beds in place of overhead bins?

A Simple Flying reader posed the idea and it got us thinking; what if airlines reconfigured the interior of aircraft? Instead of gutting overhead bins entirely, what if the bin space could instead occupy room underneath the seat or else in closets located throughout the cabin. And, instead of overhead bins, airlines offered mounted beds for passengers?

Photo of overhead bins
Overhead bin storage could instead become under-the-seat storage. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

How would airlines handle beds instead of overhead bins?

Airlines could, as with the idea of “sleeper seats” on some airlines, let passengers book the overhead bed space at an additional price. There would not be enough space for every passenger to have their own bed. However, this could work out for families or those traveling with small children. This would give passengers room to spread out both in seats and up in the hanging beds. For sure, there would not be as much space as business or first class.

Lufthansa First Class bed
The Lufthansa First Class seat transforms into a full bed with plenty of room to stretch out. Photo: Jay Singh/Simple Flying

Would airlines implement this?

It seems incredibly unlikely for airlines to replace overhead bins with beds. On one hand, this would mean a major retooling of aircraft space that could decrease usable cabin space or else remove some cargo space. Both of these could be incredibly costly for airlines.

AA narrowbody
Adding beds in lieu of overhead bins would require major cabin retooling. Photo: American Airlines

Furthermore, the beds would either reduce overhead headroom or else the beds would be incredibly tight. Whether or not this would improve the passenger experience is a different story. It is easy to imagine a reduced sense of privacy and, in the case of severe turbulence, potentially more injuries.

Passengers may also not appreciate reduced under-the-seat storage for personal belongings. This could then require airlines to further restrict the amount of hand luggage allowed on board.

Video of the day:

Virgin Atlantic economy
Overhead storage space is highly valued by many passengers. Photo: Joanna Bailey – Simple Flying

Overall

Although it is an interesting idea to replace overhead bins with beds, it is unlikely that airlines will jump at the opportunity to implement this. Whether or not many passengers would want this change is also a different story. While some may want a bed onboard, overhead bin space and headroom may be more valuable– especially since not every passenger would be guaranteed room to stretch out.

For now, there are many airlines that have released products that are like “couches” onboard. Air New Zealand has a product known as the Skycouch available on several of their flights. But, until it becomes more widespread, it is probably better to start accumulating points and miles to score a long-haul flight in a premium cabin.

Would you want airlines to replace overhead bins with beds? Let us know in the comments!

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