On virtually every long-haul flight I have ever been on where I have endured the torture and ignominy of cattle class, I have wondered why airlines never got around to introducing bunk beds on their planes.
The six-foot-five South African rugby players I always seem to get put beside on these flights, usually have a theory based on the ability of airlines to safely get people off a plane in an emergency, or planes needing seats to soak up the impacts of emergency landings. I have always suspected that some stupid government regulation lay behind the failure of bunk beds to appear on planes, but these South African theories have usually squashed my heretical thoughts, except for me wondering perhaps how safe anyone can be crashing into a stormy mid-Atlantic on a dark winter's night at five hundred miles an hour; I'd rather have risked it and had a bunk bed!
But no, it seems all of my South African friends were wrong. It is possible to put bunk beds in cattle class, to enable whole rugby teams of massive South Africans to fly cheaply in comfort, from one continent to another. Who would have thought it?
Although luckily in the last few years I have had clients willing to ship me about the place in the Byzantine luxury of business class, you can keep all of your fancy cheeses, chilled champagne, sleep suits, and all of the other superficial nonsense that you get in business class to keep the price up. Yes, it's a nice treat, but all I have ever wanted is the ability to lie down flat. Give me that, and I'll take cattle again, with perhaps half the cost difference between that and business class split between me and my client, which I can then buy some more gold with.
My last flight cost £4,000 pounds, with cattle costing around £800. That's a 500% price hike for the ability to get a decent bit of sleep. If I did get half the difference, with my clients better off to the same amount, that would be two ounces of gold each, banked into our respective accounts.
So let's thank the Lord that the idea of bunk beds has finally emerged from the incredibly creative minds of the airline industry. Travel will become easier, cheaper, and more comfortable, with less resources wasted on flying around all of those bottles of champagne to justify these enormous price differences in class upgrades; I would reckon with my two ounces of gold I would be able to more than make up for the lack of flight champagne with something bought on landing.
And let's really hope that some government nerk, who gets business class automatically already, due to their civil service grade, doesn't ban bunk beds due to some spurious health and safety nostrums, which will really be because of some background corruption and lobbying from an interested party, or annoyance that the plebs are getting uppity.
I still think the reason that bunk beds haven't already come about must be because of some stupid intrusive government regulation. Bunk beds in steerage are such a no-brainer, and will make so much money for whoever first introduces them, probably Virgin, that there must have been something unseen holding them back. I suppose we will never know, but for all of those like me who can never sleep in cattle, or for all of those business people who are being downgraded to cattle due to the credit crunch, including probably yours truly too, let's just be pleased that the age of Cheap Sleep is coming.
UPDATE: See here for more on economy sleeping solutions. (Yes, it does look a little like the sort of travel solutions they had on slave ships, but come on folks, it's only for 12 hours, not 12 weeks.)