Leaked Audio: Airline CEO Wants to Put Passengers in the Cargo Hold

Economy class passengers are often derisively referred to as ‘self-loading cargo’.

Years ago United’s website used to talk about upgrading into first class, business class, or economy. Presumably passengers would upgrade to economy from cargo.

So maybe the idea isn’t entirely original, but in an off the record talk (“Chatham House rule“) as a way of suggesting they’re trying to rethink the entirety of the aircraft as they envision non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London the CEO of Qantas says they could put sleeper berths for passengers down in cargo.

One of the concepts that we have is maybe if we’re not carrying freight you do something lower where cargo is on the aircraft, do you have an area where people can walk? Do you have berths like on a train?

There’s a lot of ‘out there’ thinking that’s going on.. I don’t know if in 2022 if there’s another going to be another class but if there is Qantas is likely to be the airline that creates it.

He says that if the latest generation of A350 and Boeing 787 aircraft cannot make New South Wales – London non-stop with a full passenger load and with full cargo that “Qantas would look to radically overhaul the cargo hold for passenger use.”

Separately he suggested that no airline makes money on first class but it’s necessary and they’ll never get rid of it. Reports of his talk do not include an unpacking of that sentiment. He also shared that he could see Qantas flying to Paris, Berlin or Frankfurt some day – though London is the priority – but that destinations in southern Europe if served would be Jetstar routes.

(HT: Jackie Reddy)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Boo, annoying clickbait!

    A more reasonable title: “Leaked audio: Qantas exploring sleeping-pods in cargo spaces.”

  2. Boo, annoying commenter! You don’t know what clickbait means, since the content of Gary’s post is consistent with the title.

    And your “more reasonable” title would not be fully accurate, since Qantas has no real idea at this point what seating in cargo would look like — berths is only one notion.

  3. Nothing really new with having pax/crews below deck. One of the German charter carriers used to have a lounge in the lower section of their L1011’s. Lufthansa, of course, has restroom facilities in the “basement” of the A340. In addition, they have a “Crew Rest Container” that slides into the cargo bay. Frankly, I don’t care where I “go flat” on an aircraft, as long as I can “go flat”.

  4. I’m a huge fan of this blog and Gary’s insight. I especially appreciate that – while all of my other favorite blogs have added additional contributors – this one remains solely the voice of it’s creator. Nevertheless, I tend to agree with Erick on this title. Won’t change my opinion of this blog though.

  5. Since airlines do not have the cargo room on an A380 as B777, mainly because there is so much luggage for 500+ passengers. So if they left out the cargo and put in “sleeping berths”, they would probably make more money than from the cargo. I’ll bet if one airline does this, then all the airlines flying A380s will do it. They all are copy cats.

  6. Anyone remember when UPS had passenger service on weekends when planes used to sit idle? I believe they had large palettes with seats that they loaded into the cargo planes.

  7. I think the important takeaway is the below line; Gary, is this true? I always was under the assumption that First Class passengers paid for Coach passengers, no? Happy to learn something new and be corrected, but I could have sworn that was the old adage in RE: airline classes.

    >Separately he suggested that no airline makes money on first class but it’s necessary and they’ll never get rid of it.

  8. @BobInLA, my guess is that’s true. Think about even a domestic flight how many middle seats could be in the first class rows, with possibly another row that could be squeezed in if that second bulkhead wasn’t there. Then consider how many passengers were upgraded complimentary to those unsold first seats. Also, the first class passengers aren’t paying for bag fees, alcohol, food etc. I could easily see it as being a less profitable necessity for the legacy airlines. I’d like to see more data on it, but this could be one of the contributing factors as to why Southwest is so profitable.

  9. Airlines lose money on first class. Airlines want to max profits. I read this as meaning Say goodbye to first class. The public planes are basically flying buses/cattle cars. Consumers get what they pay for. Cheap over crowded flying buses. Airlines just have to control the fighting amongst the vermin. Want nice experience, eventually niche companies will be created to fly wealthy patrons which may not be points individuals

  10. Misleading title. Sleep are in cargo whole area sounds like a great idea. your statement that you would upgrade to economy is completely incorrect. How about sticking to the facts.

  11. Destinations in Southern Europe being served by Jetstar? This means one of two things:

    1. Jetstar acquire more long-haul aircraft and subject passengers to inhumane conditions as they do now (this is bad).
    2. Jetstar set up operations somewhere closer to Southern Europe and subject passengers to inhumane conditions as they do now (this is also bad).

  12. This is couple of years ago, i was flying Delta business from Mumbai to JFK when a passenger sitting next to me asked this “Male Air” hostess “Is economy class full” ?

    So this air hostess tell him , Yes it is “ZOO” in the back. ( Yep he called economy passengers ANIMALS)

    I think this passenger was traveling in business first time and the male air hostess was truly a fuc***g jackass.

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