One of the best things you can do on a long haul flight is get a little shut-eye. It helps with jet lag and allows you to arrive refreshed at your destination. But this rule doesn’t only apply to passengers. Rest is necessary for flight attendants to help them function as they travel around the world, ensuring our needs are met.

A small staircase leads to a compartment of sleeping berths.
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Hidden stairways

So we know they sleep on long haul flights — but where? Well, most Boeing 777 and 787 airliners have a secret stairway that leads to a small set of windowless cabin-like bedrooms for the crew. Usually hidden behind an average-looking door, the secret staircase is located near the cockpit and requires a code to gain entry.

Not all aircraft use the secret staircase, though. Some cabin crews enter the rest area through a hidden hatch that looks like an overhead bin.

The cabins themselves are cramped and feature “beds” that lie side by side, separated only by curtains. Depending on the size of the aircraft, a crew area can hold as many as 10 beds. Bunks generally have reading lights, hooks for bags, mirrors, as well as some personal storage space for hand luggage. Usually they come with blankets and pillows and, occasionally, pajamas.

The pilots’ sleeping quarters on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Pilots fare better than cabin crew. Their rest areas are often more spacious, and feature two large sleeping berths, as well as two business-class seats, and enough room for a closet, sink, or lavatory, depending on the airline. Glam!

Before your mind wanders into the gutter, there’s a strict “one person per bed” policy. While it may have a dorm-like vibe, these people are professionals and any turbulence you feel is only that — weather.

These crew sleeping areas vary from aircraft to aircraft. Some are formed into bunks, some appear to be one giant open-plan bed and some offer more space. It depends on the airline and size of the plane.

Travel blogger Chris McGinnis took a tour of the crew rest area on Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300ER. Take a look at the video below to see what they actually look like.

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