This image had me intrigued:

enter image description here

It looks like two semi-circles, the upper part for passengers and the lower part for cargo.

I was wondering, for short haul flights, could the lower part be converted like the upper part, so the plane could carry more passengers, like a basement stuff, no windows and lower fares. We could do away with cabin luggage and stuff to take care of maximum takeoff weight, and anyways my thought was towards short haul flights.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ A.K.A. a refugee plane. $\endgroup$ Oct 1, 2015 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ they could just sit on the floor, like Operation Solomon which flew 1,122 pax on a 747 from Ethiopia to Israel israelforever.org/news/operation_solomon $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Oct 1, 2015 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Or like operation babylift, but that didn't turn out so well. $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Oct 2, 2015 at 0:34

2 Answers 2


In principle, yes. The cargo hold is pressurised and (depending on the aircraft and the installed options) reasonably temperature-controlled. However, it's probably not feasible; there are three major issues to be worked out that I can think of off the top of my head:

  • Cargo hold height and windows. It's a bit hard to tell from your picture, but even on a large widebody plane the cargohold is not that high (the cabin floor is lower than halfway). The A330 (as an example) carries LD3 containers in its cargohold, which are about 160cm tall; the cargohold is not much taller than that. Most passengers cannot walk upright inside it; the cargo hold on smaller aircraft is even lower (the one on the A320 is designed to carry LD3-46 containers, which have a height of about 115cm). Also, the lack of windows would bother passengers in the lower deck.
  • Emergency exits. In an emergency, passengers must be able to get out of the plane within 90 seconds. At best you would need to install additional doors in the cargo hold; at worst, you will not be able to meet this requirement (because of the low ceiling, people can't move as quickly)
  • In a crash landing, the lower fuselage may buckle, which serves to cushion the impact for the people in the passenger cabin. You would need to show that the passengers in the lower deck can survive a crash landing.

Note that some airlines use part of their lower deck for galleys, crew rests and even lavatories.

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    $\begingroup$ I would add that: You need a lot of the space anyway, for passenger luggage. Only part of the cargo hold is used for 3rd party cargo. You can argue that lowcost airlines need less, but do they need that much less? $\endgroup$
    – yo'
    Oct 1, 2015 at 10:04

Lower fuselage lobe has been used for passengers in the past. A330 is certified for such and in Japan the 747 - 100 was also used regularly for very short flights with pax in the lower lobe.

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    $\begingroup$ Sources for this? $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2017 at 19:55

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