Flight attendants work long hours on the job and have to be constantly alert for their passengers. Despite the long flight schedule, they must also sleep on a regular basis to stay healthy and rested. But how do they do it?
Flight crews can rest in special compartments on airplanes during long flights. These are usually hidden from passengers and are often accessed through a secret stairway or ladder. The beds are normally small and don’t have any amenities. But they do have seat belts to keep flight attendants safe during the long flight.
The sleeping space on a Qatar Airways Boeing 787 is a good example of what crew rest areas look like. It features eight beds for flight attendants above economy. Pilots have their own two beds above business class. These spaces are usually closed off from passengers, so they can’t be accessed during the flight.
On short domestic legs, flight attendants may be able to sleep in their own homes or at crash pads, which are temporary unofficial residences for flight crew members. Airlines cover the cost of these crash pads and transportation to and from them during layovers. On longer international legs, however, they’re usually forced to sleep in the crew rest areas of the planes that they fly.
If you’re on a long flight and trying to sleep, it’s best to stick with the basics, says Major. “Bring a warm, soft blanket and don’t drink alcohol or caffeine before the flight.” He adds that wearing sunglasses can help you block out light from people who want to chat with you during the flight. And he recommends avoiding salty snacks, which can cause bloating and water retention.