I am currently sitting in San Francisco airport waiting for
a flight to Houston, where I change to a flight to Sao Paulo, Brazil, scheduled
to arrive at 8:45 in the morning. I am, as usual, flying tourist class.
Some years ago, I flew to New Zealand business class at someone
else’s expense. It was a much pleasanter experience than I expect this flight to
be. The stroking that goes with an expensive ticket was nice, but
the real benefit was a seat that turned into a bed. That makes me wonder whether it would be possible to provide sleeping accommodations on overnight
flights at something closer to the cost of an ordinary tourist class ticket.
What that probably requires is a plane whose seats can convert into beds—I suspect the cost of having a plane only used for sleeper flights is too high to make it an attractive option. Not everyone on the plane
will want to sleep, so you don’t want all seats to convert. In order
to fit the same number of people in lying as seated, you will need to stack
the beds. Stacking two might do it, but stacking three probably works better.
Sleeper cars on a railroad are sometimes set up that way, and although I think
the ceiling is a little higher than in a plane you should still be able to
One problem is how to get in and out of bed without
having to ask the sleeping person next to you to move. Two solutions occur to me. One is that with beds stacked three deep there might be enough room for a narrow space between
each stack and the next sufficient to get out. The other, for a wide
body plane, is to have seats in their usual arrangement along the wall, than an
aisle, then two convertible seats, then an aisle, possibly repeating if the
plane is wide enough. That way every seat is next to an aisle.
There must be a lot
of business travelers for whom the benefit of an extra day at their destination
would be worth a good deal. No doubt some of them now fly business class. But I
expect a lot more would fly tourist sleeper if it was available at a price
somewhat higher than ordinary tourist and much lower than present business
class fares. As would I.