Airbus calls its Concept Plane for 2050 an aircraft “inspired by nature.” But it sure includes a lot of technology.
“The idea is to move out from the old-fashioned class system—first class, business class, economy class—and think more about the experience,” says Airbus chief engineer Charles Champion in an interview with The (London) Telegraph. “So the idea is, you approach the plane, you put your hand close to the door, immediately the plane recognizes you, shows you toward your seat, takes care your luggage, and then you’ve got basically a choice within a ‘smart tech’ zone, and a more revitalizing ‘relaxing’ zone.”
For Type A personalities, the cabin’s Smart Tech zone includes an “energy harvesting system” that uses body heat to power the aircraft and light the cabin. Morphing seats adapt to the passenger’s body; each individual’s budget dictates the amount of comfort and space. (Why does this bring to mind Oliver Twist and his bowl of gruel? Please, sir, I want some more.) “You might be traveling alone,” says an Airbus press release, “but holographics, communication technologies and sound showers let you work with your colleagues…” Great.
Passengers looking to get away from work might choose the Vitalising zone, which offers panoramic views outside the aircraft (the fuselage becomes transparent “with the wave of a hand”). There you can veg in your “intelligent organically grown seat” that will offer you a massage, a drink, a gentle sea breeze or the scent of a pine forest.
If you’re like many overworked Americans who never take a vacation, perhaps you’d like to consider the flight itself “a holiday experience.” Head over to the Interaction zone, where you can belly up to the bar or access a “pop-up pod” that “will offer more private spaces that can be used for…a romantic meal.” (Among other things.) Go shopping in the aircraft’s holographic mall, or play tennis, baseball, golf, or “newer options like Airbus Fusion Ball, which lets you play catch across the skyscrapers of New York or the peaks of the Himalayas!”