Where Do Crew Sleep During A Flight?

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Where do crew sleep onboard a long-haul flight? After all, if the trip is longer than a few hours, the crew (pilots and cabin crew) need a place to unwind. The answer may surprise you!

Cabin Crew
Where do the cabin crew go to rest? Photo: Airbus

Why does the crew need rest?

The cabin crew and pilots get tired. With roles that require everything from serving passengers to ensuring a safe trip, it can be hard to be at 100% for an entire flight – especially if the flight is longer than an eight-hour workday.

Thus these crew need the ability to get shut-eye and to decompress away from passengers or the flight controls. But on bigger aircraft, this can mean a whole other world away from passengers that you might never see.

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Where is the rest area on planes?

Aircrew have different rest areas onboard an aircraft depending on the length of the flight, not depending on the plane as you might think. This is because rules and regulations state what rest areas they are entitled to, rather than specifying any particular aircraft. However, nearly every long-haul flight is performed by a widebody aircraft with a separate rest area.

There are three different ‘classes’ of rest areas for the crew defined by the FAA, depending on the flight and number of crew:

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  • Class one rest facility – for long-haul flights, the crew must have access to a rest area away from not only the cockpit but also the passenger cabin. It must contain a lie-flat bed of some type (not a seat), have curtains, and noise cancellation.
  • Class two rest facility – for medium-haul flights. The crew needs access to a lie-flat seat (such as business class) and a curtain to hide them from passengers (privacy).
  • Class three rest facility – for short-haul flights, the crew have access to a seat with reclining features – generally, the last row of economy seats on a plane.

These areas are in addition to any seats used by the crew for take-off, landings, and taxis. The FAA forbids crew from congregating in these areas during aircraft maneuvers.

Emirates cabin crew on A380
Emirates has a high-density crew rest area on its A380s with triple-decker bunks. Photo: Emirates

What is their rest area like?

So, where are these areas on bigger planes?

As mentioned, class two and three areas are just business class and economy seats found in the cabin.

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But things get way more interesting when it comes to class one rest areas. All widebody aircraft have a separate rest area onboard. First, let us look at Airbus.

  • Airbus A330 and A340 series – Both aircraft have the same rest areas. Called the Lower-Deck Mobile Crew Rest area, it is located near door three in the middle of the plane under the passenger deck. Airlines can swap it out for cargo on shorter legs but otherwise it can sleep up to six at a time. Some versions also have a pilot rest area (with two bunks) in the place of a bathroom near the front of the plane
  • Airbus A350 series – Located at the rear of the plane is the A350 crew rest area. It has six bunks in a circle around a staircase leading up from the passenger deck (the crew sleep above the rear of the economy cabin). Pilots have two bunks at the front of the plane.
  • Airbus A380 – The biggest plane has the most crew and the most rest areas. Airlines can choose different layouts, with Emirates building bunkrooms on the same deck as economy with nine bunks, or Qantas, who has six under the economy deck on its A380s. Again, pilots sleep near the front of the plane. Some airlines fit the bunks with entertainment screens so the crew can unwind.
airbus-a350-getty
About 30 airlines around the world now fly the Airbus A350. Photo: Getty Images

What about Boeing’s widebody aircraft?

When it comes to Boeing aircraft, they do it a little differently to Airbus.

  • Boeing 747 series – The pilots’ rest area is located on the upper level right behind the cockpit. The cabin crew has eight bunks on the lower level near the back of the plane.
  • Boeing 767 series – Very few Boeing 767s have a separate rest area away for passengers, and few Boeing 767s are flying long-haul routes today. The rest area is located at the forward part of the business class cabin.
  • Boeing 787 series and Boeing 777s – The last two widebodies on this list have two crew rest areas. One at the front of the plane above business class (for pilots) and one at the very rear about economy for the flight attendants. The one for the pilots features not only bunks, but also seats and a private bathroom.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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