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What’s on My Holiday Wish List: Sleeper Planes

It is the season of wish-list making and gift giving, so here’s my humble request of the universe. This year what I most want is the invention of sleeper planes.

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, I was upgraded to Cathay Pacific’s new international Business Class, due to a goof with my ticket. Cathay has a long history of excellent customer service so I wasn’t shocked–but I was shocked at how wonderful the experience was. Business Class has come a long way, baby.

About five years ago I was bumped to First Class on an Air France flight. This meant I had a bigger seat, a personal entertainment player with free movies (mind blowing at the time), and hot meals. It was nice but honestly it was nothing I would have paid extra for. It just wasn’t that different from a Coach seat.

Skip forward to 2008, a time of revolutionary “pod travel,” as I dubbed it. Cathay Pacific’s international Business Class features the latest craze in the skies: seats that convert into fully flat beds cocooned by walls. So far, airlines refer to this feature differently, from shell-shaped dividers to privacy screens, but no matter what you call it pod travel is the wave of the future–and an indulgence I would not mind splurging on.

The high walls surrounding my seat gave me the freedom to relax. No more worrying about your mouth hanging open as you doze off, no more glaring at people reading over your shoulder, and best of all, no more making small talk with the person next to you. And when I got sleepy, I converted my seat into a fully flat bed, tucked myself in with a down comforter, and indulged in a solid eight hours of sleep. The next morning, I arrived in Hong Kong rested and ready to go–effectively saving an entire day of my vacation from the jaws of jetlag.

The entire time I was on the plane, I couldn’t stop thinking that this was the only humane way to fly long distances. Why can’t we invent “sleeper planes”? Couldn’t engineers figure out a way to stack the sleeper pods and make them span the length of the plane like an old-fashioned sleeper train? Why can’t this be an affordable indulgence, like the spa or a dinner out?

Okay, okay. I know my wish won’t fit in a stocking, and I’m sure it’s a daunting challenge, but I think if you tried pod travel, you’d join in my chorus. It was officially life changing.


My name: Alison Presley

Nickname: Presbo, because I'm good police.

How I earn my keep: I'm the manager of Travelocity's Travel for Good program. Visit Travel for Good to learn more about our green travel and voluntourism initiatives!

What kind of traveler am I: I'm an intrepid food explorer. I usually starve myself on the plane (not that that's too hard to do) so that the moment my toes touch foreign soil I'm ready to sample new and exciting cuisine. I like to dine everywhere from hole-in-the-wall local secrets to Michelin Guide gems. Cannelés, poi, boiled peanuts, oxtail soup, poutine--there's no stopping this adventurous palate.

Greatest travel lesson I've learned: It doesn't cost a lot of money to do good. Offsetting your carbon impact only adds a few bucks to your trip, green hotels are very affordable, and volunteering locally during your vacation is a great way to give back and learn about the culture.

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