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No Joke: Airbus Files For “Sleeping Box” Patent

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is seeking a patent that could see economy class passengers flying in stackable boxes.

The term “sleeping box” conjures the mental image of a coffin, and that isn’t too far from the concept Airbus engineers have created with the design plans for a stackable sleeping box for economy-class flyers. U.S. Patent Application #20150266581A1 seeks to protect the invention of:

“A sleeping box for installation in an aircraft comprises a casing which is suitable for accommodating a person located in a reclining position parallel to a longitudinal axis of the casing.”

Or, in simpler terms, a coffin-sized pet carrier for passengers.


While the idea of stackable passenger compartments sounds like a scene out of a dystopian nightmare, the sleeping box designs actual offer some advantages over more traditional economy seats. The lie-flat design offers an obvious improvement for passengers who want to catch a few winks. Because the sleeping boxes can be stacked up to three high, the previously unused vertical space translates into more room for passengers and offers a bit more privacy, with each flyer having direct access to the aisle.

Airbus seems to realize that stackable passenger cubbies will be a hard sell for the flying public. The company declined to comment about the sleeping box patent application and downplayed the chances of the concept ever becoming a reality.


“Airbus applies for hundreds of patents every year in order to protect intellectual property,” Airbus spokesperson Mary Anne Greczyn told CNN. “These patents are often based on R&D concepts and ideas in a very nascent stage of conceptualization, and not every patent progresses to becoming a fully realized technology or product.”

If the sleeping box concept sounds familiar, it may be because a crack team of FlyerTalk “engineers” carelessly neglected to consult a patent attorney before publicly introducing a very similar concept as an outlandish prank on April Fool’s Day this year.

[Photos: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office]

Comments are Closed.
October 7, 2015

This is a great idea! I'm often shelling money out on J for private travels as well as I refuse to "sleep" on a red-eye in an economy seat and ruin whereever I'm going. I'd actually be willing to do this for Europe-West Coast flights for business as well. I don't need the catering, just a bed and a tv screen for me thanks.

natalew October 7, 2015

I completely agree with the positive comments, and I'm confident the nay-sayers are in the small minority. Trains long ago solved the logistical issues involved in day/night use, and Airbus could also. So, who wouldn't find this an attractive proposition? I could actually see myself giving up my high cost addiction to lie flat business class seating: therefore I suspect the main reluctance would come from the airlines themselves, as this product could undermine much of the demand for the highly profitable BC cabin. My guess is that this would not be sold as a true Economy product, but rather as an middle tier offering.

Mrtimothy October 7, 2015

No doubt Ryanair would have them arranged vertically rather than horizontally.

Rebelyell October 6, 2015

This isn't going to be a "hard sell" at all. It would be a way to offer passengers a chance to sleep at "coach" prices.

whiskey_sk October 5, 2015

Lufthansa run a questionnaire for certain travellers about very similar concept back in 2007 or so. I even have got a screenshot of their cabin render somewhere.