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See inside the secret Boeing 787 Dreamliner cabin where pilots sleep during long-haul flights

The pilot sleeping area on a Boeing 787-9.

Stephen Jones/ Insider

  • Aviation regulators set the total hours pilots fly and how much sleep they must get between flights. 
  • During ultra-long-haul flights, pilots sleep in special cabins, which passengers can’t access. 
  • Insider recently toured a Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 and saw where pilots sleep — take a look.

It matters how much pilots rest.Airline pilot walking through an airport.Airline pilot walking through an airport.

Taylor Rains/Insider

Country aviation regulators govern the amount of sleep that flight crews must get between flights and the maximum amount of hours they can work per day.Norse pilots landing in Oslo.

Norse Atlantic Airways

Source: Federal Aviation Administration

This requires multiple pilots for ultra-long-haul flights, so one crew can be flying while the other rests.Masked American Airlines pilotAn American Airlines pilot.

COOPER NEILL/AFP/Getty

Carriers like Singapore Airlines and Australia-based Qantas operate the world’s longest flights, which stretch upwards of 19 hours nonstop.Singapore A350.

BoeingMan777/Shutterstock

Singapore Airlines just relaunched the world’s second-longest flight which connects the country to NYC — see the ‘wellness meals’ the carrier serves onboard the 19-hour flight

To ensure that the crew are comfortable and have somewhere to properly rest in privacy on the ultra-long-haul journeys, planemakers, including Boeing and Airbus, equip widebody jets with sleeping compartments.Crew rest onboard SAS Scandinavian Airlines' Airbus A350-900 XWB — SAS Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A350-900 XWB TourTouring SAS Scandinavian Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 XWB.

Thomas Pallini/Insider

Inside the secret plane bedrooms where pilots sleep on long-haul flights

Insider toured one of Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliners at Farnborough International Airshow 2022 and spoke with a pilot to learn more about the secret room — see inside.A Qatar Airways Boeing 787 DreamlinerInsider toured one of Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliners at Farnborough International Airshow 2022.

Stephen Jones /

According to the pilot, the cabin is accessed via a small stairwell in the crew galley behind the cockpit. It’s restricted to crew only and is locked to passengers during flights for security.The stairwell leading from the galley to the pilot sleeping area on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.The stairwell leading from the galley to the pilot sleeping area on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Stephen Jones /

It’s prohibited to use the room during takeoff and landing for safety reasons, but also because all pilots are required to be in the cockpit during those critical phases of flight.The staircase leads to a small room containing a chair, and two bunks.The staircase leads to a small room containing a chair, and two bunks.

Stephen Jones /

Instead the resting crew sit on two jumpseats in the back of the cockpit. 

The Boeing 787 compartment has two bunks, each with a private curtain for privacy.The pilot sleeping area on a Boeing 787-9The pilot sleeping area on a Boeing 787-9.

Stephen Jones/ Insider

The compartments are different on other plane models. The 777 for example has seats. 

 

There are also reading lights, drinks holders, and areas for pilots to store their personal belongings.Two bunks lay side by side in a narrow room. They have a curtain allowing pilots to sleep in private during long haul flights.Each bunk has its own area for pilots to leave their personal items

Stephen Jones / Insider

Pilots are not allowed to store drinks during takeoff and landing, however.The drinks holder in the pilot sleeping cabin aboard a Qatar Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. A sign informs pilots that its prohibited to store things during take off and landing.The drinks holder in the pilot sleeping cabin aboard a Qatar Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Stephen Jones/Insider

In case of emergencies, each bunk has a phone that enables pilots to speak directly to the cockpit.Each bunk on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has a phone to enable pilots to speak to those in the cockpit while they're resting during long haul flights.Each bunk has a phone to enable pilots to speak to those in the cockpit while they’re resting during long haul flights.

Stephen Jones / Insider

Seatbelts also protect anyone snoozing through turbulence.A pillow is held in place by a seat belt on one bunk in the pilot rest area on the Boeing 787.Each bunk has its own seat able to protect pilots while they’re sleeping during long haul flights.

Stephen Jones /

If pilots don’t feel like lying down, there is a seat they can relax in, which comes with an emergency phone.The seat inside the crew rest cabin aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.The seat inside the crew rest cabin aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Stephen Jones /

Rest time is split equally between the two crews during the flight, the pilot explained to Insider.Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 DreamlinerA Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

InsectWorld / Shutterstock.com

Qatar Airway’s longest route is Doha to Auckland non-stop, which typically takes around 16 hours and 30 minutes. 

During that flight, each of the two crews will typically spend seven hours resting and seven hours on duty in the cabin, with an additional hour an a half in total spent on the flight deck during take-off and landing, the pilot said. 

 

It’s not just pilots that need rest, flight attendants have their own dedicated sleeping cabin located in the aft, or rear, section of the plane.The cabin crew sleeping cabin on a Boeing 787.The cabin crew sleeping area on a Boeing 787.

Chris McGrath / Staff

Here’s an example of the cabin on a Boeing 787, not visited by Insider. Like pilots, cabin crew split their shifts evenly during long haul flights. 

 

 

However, some airlines do not have a separate room for flight attendants, but rather a specific row of reclining seats, like on United’s Boeing 767. The seats can be closed off using a curtain.United crew rest seats on a 767.

Taylor Rains/Insider

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