Lufthansa is considering the introduction of "bunk bed" seats in economy class on overnight long haul routes.
The airline insists that its thinking is "at a very early stage" but it has already canvassed the views of its frequent flyers to see how they would respond to the idea. Customers have been asked, for example, whether they would appreciate such beds on flights between Frankfurt and Singapore or Johannesburg.
A spokeswoman confirmed: "The idea would be to have a so called sleeper class. There is no definite plan but it has been discussed and customer opinions have been sought. Based on the results of that a decision will be taken whether or not to develop it as a concept".
Though the concept has yet to harden into a development plan it is understood that Lufthansa may install seats which recline through 180 degrees to become tiered into bunk beds after the seat belt has been switched off. These seats could cost around €200 more than a flexible economy fare.
They would be connected to the flight entertainment system but it is thought unlikely that there would be a conventional meal service. Instead, because passengers booking them would be anxious to get as much sleep as possible, they would be given bottled water, and food would be available from a self service snack buffet.
The beds would need approval from international safety authorities, who would need to look at ease of evacuation in an emergency. If the concept becomes reality the new beds could be installed on Lufthansa's recently ordered fleet of 20 long range Boeing 747-8s, the first of which are scheduled to be delivered in 2010. The jets will carry up to 400 passengers.
Business travellers who have become aware of Lufthansa's thinking through internet flyer forums have broadly welcomed the idea.
One noted: "I think that it could prove very popular with business travellers whose companies are too stingy to let them fly C class. Even with the €200 surcharge, this should still be within the range of all but the most draconian corporate travel policies." And another wrote: "For those of us stuck in Y this would be a godsend.".
Report by Roger Bray
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