Seeing Stars During a Flight

Imagine gliding through the sky on a night flight to some exotic part of the world. You lean back, your chair closely conforming to fit your body better, and look not out but up at the night stars above, twinkling brightly. Other than under your feet, the world around you is clear, revealing the full canopy of the heavens and the twinkling of cities near the horizon.

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus is seeking to make this vision a reality 40 years from now. At a show designed to showcase ideas on the future of aviation in 50 years, the company revealed their Concept Cabin, which would have in place of the traditional fuselage a "wall membrane" that could become fully transparent in flight to showcase the skies. They say that their desire is for the flight to be seamless. With the wall membrane, passengers would no longer feel enclosed, but instead be able to appreciate the sky around them.

The membrane is far from the only innovation Airbus wants to introduce. Instead of traditional seating sections, the manufacturer wants to introduce different cabin sections for different activities. A "Vitalizing Zone" would provide massages and relaxing scents to help passengers relax and recuperate, an "Interactive Zone" would allow for simulations of activities like golf, and a "Tech Zone" would allow passengers to connect to the world. These zones would allow passengers to spend their time in whatever sort of setting and environment they wanted. Also, the plane in general would have various passenger comforts like seats that conform to the person's body.

Already some innovations in this direction exist, although of course not even close to the level imagined by Airbus. Some modern Airbus planes have lounges, large beds for the passengers, and even showers. The comfort level of air travel is increasing slowly but surely. Still, there's a great deal of technology to be developed before the Concept Cabin can be implemented in reality, and so for the moment shower technology seems to be the upper limit of in-flight convenience.

So, sometime in the future, you might be able to relax on a plane while your back is softly massaged with scented oils and the sky lies overhead in all its glory. For now, make sure you get a window seat and a nice drink, if nothing else. At the very least, it's a good start.

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