See inside the tiny hidden bedrooms above economy where flight attendants sleep on an Airbus A350-900XWB jet

·6-min read
Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider
  • Long-haul aircraft come with compartments in which bunks are available for flight attendants to rest and sleep.

  • The hostel-like setup can be a second home for cabin crew on ultra-long-haul flights.

  • Flight attendants will take turns servicing the cabin while the others rest.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Next-generation aircraft are flying further than ever before and airlines are constantly adjusting their products and offerings to ensure passengers are comfortable.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read More: The 10 longest routes flown by airlines in 2019

The Airbus A350 family of aircraft, for example, flew four of the 10 longest routes in the world before the pandemic. It currently flies the longest flight in the world between New York and Singapore, operated by Singapore Airlines.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read More: Inside the new world's longest flight: What it's like to fly on Singapore Airlines' new route between Singapore and New York

But while flyers are lounging out in plush lie-flat seats to endure the long journeys, flight attendants don't have that same luxury.

Business class onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Rather, they don't even stay in the passenger cabin for their breaks and retreat to a hidden hideaway above their passengers.

Business class onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Take a look at where flight attendants go when they need to rest onboard this SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900XWB.

The entryway to SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The extreme back of the plane is where passengers will find the rear galley. It's just one of the main workstations for a flight attendant where drinks, food, and other items are kept.

Economy class onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Just opposite the galley, however, is a small set of stairs that appears to lead to nowhere.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

A door marked "crew only" with a red no entry symbol hides the compartment above.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Open the door, and the crew rest area reveals itself.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

It's a narrow space and climbing up and down the stairs takes some getting used to. But long-haul flight attendants have plenty of opportunities to practice as they routinely spend countless hours in the air.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The compartment is completely separate from the passenger cabin so it's not like the crew can look down on passengers from above.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Once inside, six bunks comprise the crew rest area. There's not much headspace and some crouching is required to navigate the compartment.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Each bunk has the essentials including a pillow, blanket, and mattress pad so flight attendants can get a good sleep.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

But beyond that, they're quite bare save for a few storage pockets. While passengers below have access to thousands of hours of in-flight entertainment, flight attendants don't.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

That's because these areas are meant solely for rest and the bare-bones setup reflects that. Flight attendants can choose to do other things like read books or go on their phones but that's not the intended purpose.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

A personal reading lamp provides the only light in the bunks as otherwise, it gets quite dark in the space.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Flight attendants can close the curtains for privacy and block any ambient light coming from the galley and main entryway.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Seatbelts are installed so resting flight attendants can sleep while safely strapped in during turbulence or any other time the seatbelt sign is on.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Smaller storage areas line the aisle and an emergency exit is available that will see flight attendants pop out from overhead bins in case of trouble.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Hangars are also available for the crew to hang up their uniforms.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The narrow passageways are reminiscent more of a spaceship than an airplane. That said, it would've been easier to maneuver had there been no gravity.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Crew rest is mandatory on longer journeys and flight attendants will take turns servicing their cabins while others rest.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Pilots have a separate rest area that's closer to the cockpit, with this rest area solely for cabin crew.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The crew rest area is connected to the cabin below via an intercom, allowing flight attendants to keep in communication.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

On some of the longer flights of which aircraft like the Airbus A350 are capable, this can become a second home for hours on end. The flight from New York to Singapore is scheduled at 18 hours and 50 minutes in duration, for example.

Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read More: Singapore Airlines says 6 unique seats always sell out on the world's longest flight — here's why

All the while, the average passenger will likely never realize that flight attendants are resting just feet above their heads. It's one of the closely kept secrets of an airplane.

Economy class onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

But if a flight attendant disappears for a few hours, that's likely where they're going.

Economy class onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB - SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB Tour
Touring SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Not all crew rest areas are as secluded, however. On smaller aircraft, a crew rest area can be a single-row in economy, often the very last row.

LAX Day Trip Alaska Airlines
Retreating to the last row. Thomas Pallini/Business Insider

JetBlue, for example, is flying to London in August and blocking one of the last rows in economy for its flight attendants to rest on the journeys.

Economy class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR. Thomas Pallini/Insider

A Mint business class seat is also reserved for flight attendants to use transatlantic flights.

Mint business class onboard JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR - JetBlue Airways Airbus A321neoLR Tour
Inside JetBlue Airways' new Airbus A321neoLR. Thomas Pallini/Insider

So while the average traveler may never know if flight attendants dream of flying sheep, they'll now have a better idea of where they sleep.

Delta Air Lines First Class Phoenix to Minneapolis Boeing 767-400ER
Flying Delta Air Lines in first class from Phoenix to Minneapolis. Thomas Pallini/Insider

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