Unbeknownst to most passengers onboard commercial aircraft is the fact that there are often two secret cabins where flight attendants and pilots can sneak off to
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Cabin crew and pilots are able to sneak away to grab forty winks in rest areas that are specially hidden on some planes.
Large, widebody passenger planes which are used on long-haul routes have to be accommodating for passengers and staff alike due to the length and intensity of the journeys they’re used on.
Crew Rest Compartments are a staple on large aircraft, yet most customers won’t know about them as they’re strictly off limits and hidden from view.
Where they are situated varies from plane-to-plane.
On newer aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A350, they are located above the main cabin, in the upper fuselage.
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On older aircraft, they are often placed down in the cargo hold or the main cabin, CNN reports.
Typically aircraft have two cabins, with one for the pilots situated above the cockpit including two bunks and a recliner seat.
The crew use the other, larger cabin which features six bunks and sits by the section at the back of the plane where food and drinks are prepared and stored.
While different countries have different regulations that determine the dimensions and conditions in the cabins, most follow American guidelines due to the high proportion of passenger planes made in the country.
The US’s Federal Aviation Administration mandates that crew rest areas should be “in a location where intrusive noise, odours and vibration have minimum effect on sleep”.
They must also be temperature-controlled and allow the crew to adjust lighting.
The beds must be 198cm by 76cm, and have a cubic meter of space around them, while the cabins are required to have a plug socket, oxygen masks, seat belt lights and an intercom.
The general impression is similar to a Japanese capsule hotel.
Susannah Carr, a flight attendant with United Airlines, told CNN: “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.”
Susannah said that the cabins have wider bunks than first class, meaning crew get more legroom, but they’re also a little claustrophobic due to the bed being stacked up as bunks.
The flight attendant said that most staff are unaware of the cabin’s existence and likely think it’s a storage space if they walk by it.
“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,” she said.
Behind the door there is usually a small landing and a ladder leading upstairs.
On older aircraft such as the Boeing 767 the crews’ rest areas are just reclining seats in the main cabin which are hidden by heavy, dark blackout curtains.
Susannah has had curious passengers open these while she was sleeping, meaning they’re not the best for those looking for a good rest.
Karoliina Åman, a flight attendant with Finnair who works on Airbus A330 and A350 aircraft, says that most flight attendants get about 1.5 hours of rest in the cabin during a long-haul flight.
She says that while the breaks are short, they’re crucial for ensuring that staff can take their minds off the work and recharge their batteries.
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