Pilots take shifts on a long-haul flights. When not flying, they rest in hidden rooms on the plane.
On an Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER, I toured the secret area where pilots sleep and relax.
I thought it was the nicest spot on the aircraft, with plenty of room, beds, and recliners.
Twelve hours is a long time to be on a plane. But when you have the responsibility of flying the aircraft, it's an even tougher role. That's why long-haul flights have multiple pilots onboard who work in shifts.
And when a pilot isn't in the cockpit, they're resting in secret rooms onboard the aircraft.
On my recent 12-hour Air New Zealand flight from Auckland, New Zealand, to Los Angeles, I gained access to this part of the plane that most people don't see.
I boarded the Boeing 777-300ER early, and Sarita Rami, the in-service flight manager, greeted me in business class.
Together, we walked past rows of lie-flat seats in business class and into the airplane's front galley.
From the galley, I could see the aircraft's cockpit. But I didn't spot any door or signs indicating the pilot's rest area.
That's because the doorways to the room are intentionally camouflaged so passengers don't accidentally disturb the resting pilots, Rami said.
Rami pointed to a locked door, entered a secret code, and opened the latch.
Behind the door was a narrow, steep staircase. I climbed up the stairs and was immediately shocked by how spacious the room was that I entered.
Although I couldn't fully stand at 5 feet and 8 inches, the room had enough space for two reclining chairs and two beds.
On most long-haul flights, there are four pilots who split time between the cockpit and the rest area. But at any point during the flight, there must be at least two pilots in the cockpit, according to the Federal Aviation Authority.
Source: The Conversation
A representative for Air New Zealand told me that the flight's captain typically decides when the breaks happen, but like flight attendants, pilots typically take their breaks in 2-hour slots. Once on a break, the pilots have the option to spend their time in the recliner, in a bunk-style bed, or a combination of both.
No matter where they choose to rest, there are seat belts.
Near the recliner chairs, the pilots have a TV equipped with entertainment. The setup was nearly identical to my TV in business class. I also saw a plug, temperature control panel, and cupholders nearby.
Between the seats, a phone is available to the pilots to communicate with the cockpit or flight attendants in the cabin.
Behind the leather seats are two cubby-style beds.
The narrow beds each come with a curtain to block out light and allow for privacy.
Inside the sleeping cubby, I saw two sets of blankets and pillows, which looked similar to the ones I received in my business-class seat. I thought the mattress on the bed looked comfy enough for a decent nap.
Along the edge of the bed, I spotted more cupholders and a control panel for the lights and airflow in the bed nook.
As I descended the stairs, I spotted a wardrobe. Rami told me that's where the pilots store parts of their uniforms while they rest.
I felt spoiled in my business-class seat, but I thought the pilot's room was even more luxurious. They had privacy, space to stretch out, and a larger bed than my lie-flat seat.
And, of course, those perks were well earned. On my flight home, I slept better knowing that the pilots had room to rest and re-energize for some of the world's longest flights.
Read the original article on Insider