Double beds, virtual reality and arm-rests for two – these are just some of the innovations you can expect to see on planes in the future.
This weekend, the winners of the prestigious Crystal Cabin Awards 2018 were announced in Hamburg Germany. Judged by a 28 expert jury, the awards celebrate innovation in airplane cabin design. They’re a great predictor of what passengers can expect from airlines in the future.
So what are the hottest trends?
Double beds in the sky
The winner of the Cabin Concepts award was Qatar Airways QSuite, developed by PriestmanGoode.
This is the world’s first business class suite to have a double bed and offer a truly social seating experience for families and friends travelling together.
With a flick of the hand, four Business Class suites can also be arranged around a table for eating and socialising with family and friends. If you want more privacy, the built-in panels can be arranged to create a private room.
Finalist Singapore Airlines new first class suite is not far removed from a hotel room. If you’re travelling with a partner, a crew member can remove the partition wall to the neighbouring suite and you will have a real double bed.
This premium suite by Airbus, designed for use on the A350 and A380 features two halves – Day and Night. Passengers can switch between the zones throughout the flight. At meal times, passengers could sit in the “Day area”, which offers table seating and a window view. In the “Night area”, fliers can enjoy their flat bed.
Increased economy comfort
It’s not all about first or business class. Numerous entries into the competition focused on economy.
Two entries into the Crystal Cabin Awards this year were for armrests with space for two elbows. That’s sure to stop a lot of fighting.
Seat manufacturer Haeco tackled the issue of noise by creating a noise-absorbing headrest. With a single movement, the headrest folds across the ears instantly blocking out the noise from your neighbours.
The winner of the Cabin Systems award was a company called Rockwell Systems. Its entry focused on the partition wall between Business and Economy Class. Those pesky front row seats in economy often don’t have great leg room and you can’t put your bug under the seat in front. Rockwell created a curved wall that allows gives the economy passenger enough legroom and space for cabin baggage.
Urinals in the sky
Hate the queue for the loo? Zodiac Aerospace‘s entry – an on-board urinal could significantly reduce the time passengers spend in the smallest cabin on the plane.
Were so excited about this one. The category of In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity was won by Bluebox Aviation Systems, a company that has designed an in-flight entertainment platform with on-board entertainment for the visually impaired. The product is already in service with Virgin Atlantic.
A digital cabin
Expect airline entertainment to become even more immersive in the future. Some of the finalists showcased at the awards include a 3D monitor for in-flight entertainment and VR glasses for deep immersion in entertainment.
Another digital trend is the extension of the flight experience to include the time before boarding. Spanish company Renacen with Emirates Airlines won big here. They have created “3D Seat Map VR” software. During the flight booking, a passenger can walk through a virtual 360-degree view of the cabin from the passenger perspective.