The future of airplanes
The tremendous advances in technology over the past few decades are what have made international travel so accessible. And seeing as this process of innovation never ceases, existing travel technology is constantly changing. But it is rare that we see visible changes in airplanes. Yes, we hear about new airplanes and new technology, but we rarely experience extreme changes in the interior. That is why it is exciting to get a peek into what is planned for future airplanes and how this will affect long-distance flights.
Qatar Airways airplanes traditionally have a standard layout – first class, business class and a lounge or bar on the upper deck; a small economy cabin at the very back of the middle deck; and the entire lower deck allocated for economy class. For the fortunate travellers who fly first class, there are the exciting recent upgrades on the Airbus A380: eight luxury suites with extra-wide comfortable seats. Each seat is elegantly upholstered in soft fabric and leather, and trimmed with copper, and expands into a flat, 2.2-metre bed. But if this is not enough, first-class passengers also get their own cupboard, with slippers, pajamas and ultra-luxurious Giorgio Armani and Christian Dior amenity kits. And of course they have an entertainment system at their disposal – with movies, games and music on a 48-cm HD video screen – all controlled with a touchscreen tablet.
The rest of the luxury is in the finer details. Just about every light is adjustable at the touch of a button. Each passenger has their own private mini-bar with plenty of space to open it, and stock it, and featuring LED lights to make drink selection that much easier. Another added feature is the first-class bar that turns into a beautiful water fountain when not in use, a special touch that makes a big difference. The food is way beyond the usual airplane fare, and each suite is semi-closed off, so passengers can eat and sleep without being disturbed. If you would like to refresh before you land, you can enjoy a shower spa in one of the two bathrooms. Sure, there is a time limit, but you get to shower with hot water in a luxurious shower on an airplane. This truly is the way to fly longhaul!
Not all of us fly first class though, so what does the future hold for economy class? Well, firstly, in some new airplanes you will find the TV screen at the back of the seat missing, either with screens hanging overhead or, in the future, no screens at all. This is due to cost-saving and the potential of personal devices to stream movies or TV during flights. Speaking of internet, it seems that European flights will soon allow passengers to use 3G or 4G during flights, and, in many cases, airplanes already offer Wi-Fi.
Another interesting concept for the more distant future is that of airplanes without individual windows, but rather panels running all along the sides of the cabin that project images from cameras mounted on the outside. This will make the airplane lighter and more economic, while giving passengers uninterrupted panoramic views.
Whether you are flying first class or economy, look out for the subtle changes that may change your flight experience for the better … or not.