Want To Fly More Cheaply? Try The Cargo Hold. No, Seriously

December 10, 2015Dec 10, 2015

Dismayed by the fast-rising cost of plane tickets? Ever thought that stuffing yourself into a suitcase for the $50 round-trip carry-on luggage fee would be worth it?

Thanks to French aircraft equipment manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace, riding in the cargo hold may soon be less ludicrous than it sounds. According to the UK Telegraph, a new plane design would lower fares and pack in more passengers by sending some below the traditional passenger cabin and into the space normally used for your luggage.

But if you think you'll be tumbling around with the baggage and cat carriers, Zodiac has something far more comfortable in mind, and it could revolutionize — for better or for worse — the airline industry.


While still in the patent-filing stage, the design plans call for furnishing the lower cabin like the one above, with several notable differences:

1. The typical airline seats could be setup in traditional rows, but one plan calls for metro-style seating with the rows along both sides of the plane facing inward toward a central row.
2. Instead of windows, passengers would be treated to large video screens (bigger than windows in the upper cabin) that display what's going on outside the plane. And the images can even be displayed on your smartphone or tablet if you don't want to bother to turn your head.
3. Instead of overhead bins, passengers would get storage cubbies along the wall, which combined with the fewer number of seats in the lower cabin, would create a much roomier feel in the lower cabin than the traditional upper cabin.
4. You wouldn't always have to wait for the food cart to make its ever-so-ponderous way down the the aisle to you. Vending machines in the lower cabin would let you serve yourself.
5. You would get all the same in-flight features like Wi-Fi, in-flight entertainment, and air vents, but the lower deck could potentially have less intrusive outside noise.

In fact, with all these nifty additions, one plan calls for actually making the lower cabin a first-class passenger lounge with the rest of the coach steerage sitting in their boring ol' traditional cabin above.

But how can airplanes make space for this lower cabin without jettisoning all the luggage? Interestingly enough, airliners have done such an effective job of scaring us away from bringing carry-on suitcases with high fees and a track record of lost baggage that, on average, only 37 percent of the cargo area is used up anyway.

Is this an idea you can get on-board with?