When airplanes had beds
The first travellers expected flat, comfortable airline beds

Airline passengers in the 1930s and 1940s fully expected a flat bed to sleep on.

The cabin of a Pan Am Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, an aircraft released in 1940s. Photo: Pan Am Historical Foundation / panam.org

Imagine airline beds as upper and lower bunk beds with mattresses and sheets.

Pullman-style private curtains.


Reading lights.

You might even get breakfast in bed.

Sisters enjoying breakfast on first class while crossing the Atlantic in the 1950’s




Cheaper fares introduced in the 1940s separated the haves and have-nots.

Some airlines went as far as offering four classes – deluxe (upper first class), first, tourist and economy.

The two-class model was still the most popular.

By the 1970s, More than 200 people could fly at the same time.

First-class passengers no longer had flat airline beds but still enjoyed more space and more comfortable seats.

Roman Class or Kipper Class

While first-class and business-class passengers can now enjoy double airline beds and quad suites (!), economy passengers are crammed in.

Perhaps the airlines could copy ancient Roman elite dining practices.

(They lay on couches while dining).

Provide a pillow or headrest that can be raised at the head end of the bed.

Add a fold-down tray table.

The space for the fold-down tray table could turn into extra bed length for sleeping.

The flight attendants could slide a tray of food onto the table even if it is at shoulder height.

Passengers would eat reclining on one elbow, supported by the pillow.

The food would have to be finger food or only require a spoon or fork.

Dancing girls and pipers?  Not for economy travelers, I think.

There are many reasons for why wouldn’t work, including safety harnesses, securing children etc.

But it still sounds a much more appealing idea than kipper class below.

Airplane manufacturers release sketches like this one regularly.

But, thank goodness, they haven’t taken off.

The triple decker bunks are set out in the herring-bone pattern of a kipper.

Happy Make Your Bed Day.

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