Air travel is always changing. We are a long way away from the “glory days” of Pan Am and James Bond smoking cigarettes face to face with a pretty stranger. Today air travel has split into two competing factions: the economy experience and the luxury experience. In an effort to create loyalty you will see each faction truly harness their core values. Luxury is going to become much more luxurious and economy is going to become much more economical and the features involved will follow suit.
Economy is going to become truly economical. Truly cheap fares, truly cheap seats and no frills. Don’t even begin to expect the choice between red mush and green mush for dinner, there will be no dinner at all. The brightside? You will be able to globe trot for much less than you can now. There is growing interest in having airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet service the routes across the Atlantic which have for years been horribly expensive. Ryanair’s CEO has said that his airline would offer roundtrip tickets from the US to Europe for under $30 within the next five years. If that sounds too good to be true you are not far off, a fare like that won’t include any bags, meals, seat pitch or much of anything else. Even with the addition of all of the “extras” you could still be seeing legitimate fares under $200 between the US and Europe. These companies have successfully created dirt cheap fares throughout Europe for years by minimizing overhead and frills. If this is something you value your travel budget will take you a lot further in the future.
If you want to know the real future of economy you must look at the airplane manufacturers themselves. What are they trying to create? All airplanes will have some positive advancements which will lead to less jet lag and less noise but it’s not all positive. Leave it to the French… Airplane manufacturer Airbus is currently applying to patent the bicycle seat. Yes, that is correct. The bicycle seat.
In order to court people away from economy, luxury travel will become borderline grandiose. Aside from the now standard flat beds, fine dining and priority airport experience; airlines will look to create even more amenities from the time you leave your home until you reach your destination. Etihad Airlines is introducing a product called “The Residence”. Sound crazy? It is. The residence will include roundtrip chauffeur to and from the airport, a butler trained at the Savoy in London, a living room, bathroom, bedroom, sitting area and access to a personal chef.
While I doubt we will ever see any US carrier introduce full apartments onboard, luxury travellers will be able to expect a higher level of dedication and reward than they do currently. As the market segments, airlines who focus on luxury will hone in on creating competitive amenities and will continue to grow their luxury product until there is simply no better way to fly. As you can see it seems as if “The Residence” has already set the bar impossibly high. The good news: anyone who flies for business or is using miles may get to experience a truly stellar product in better form than ever before.
Whether you are flying in a luxury apartment or on a bicycle seat next to Shrek there is one problem that every traveller deals with: Jetlag. Jetlag is a function of a few things some of which cannot be helped and some which can. You will never be able to synch the entire world into one time zone but you can give passengers better oxygen en route to their destination wherever it is. Our bodies suffer on airplanes from higher air pressure and lack of humidity. Higher pressure causes swelling and tiredness while a lack of humidity creates dry skin and exposes the nasal membranes leading to colds. Newer airplanes like the Boeing 787 have created advancements to lower the air pressure which in turn allows for more natural humidity. New planes will also create a better user experience such as bigger windows, mood lighting and more spacious bathrooms. There are more new planes on the way from both Airbus and Boeing and I look forward to learning more about them as they arrive for delivery. I am really looking forward to flying the 787 next year! My friend Max recently flew this aircraft from New York to Stockholm and said that he felt noticeably better after the flight.
The bottom line: There will be more “something for everyone”. There will be ultra cheap completely frill free flights that will get you around the world for a fraction of current cost. There will be standard economy flights with an average meal and a decent seat. There will be business class beds which will bridge the gap between crazy luxury (and the prices that go with it) and economy and finally there will be outright crazy first class apartments where your butler speaks more languages than you do.
What do you think about an airplane bicycle seat? godsavethepoints.com
Fascinating read and very well written!
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