Travel | December 13, 2016 9:00 am

Airbus Just Designed a Plane With Workspaces and Lie-Flat Beds … in Economy

One way plane travel actually might get better for everyone

Airplane travel doesn’t have to be terrible. An overnight flight on Virgin’s Upper Class is a dream at 40,000 feet. Emirates’ first class? It’s nice, and by nice, we mean ridiculous.

But that’s the thing: plane travel can be terrific — if you’re willing to pay for it. So innovations to improve the quality of biz-class and up? Dime a dozen. Who cares.

Today, though, we greet news of a possible overhaul in how airplanes accommodate their passengers, and the good news — the relevant news — is that it could come to economy as well. 

Credit Airbus for the thought bubble. Their new concept, the not-at-all pretentiously titled “Transpose,” offers “swappable plane interiors to offer travelers everything from restaurants to spas to co-working spaces while aloft,” according to Wired.

What’s that mean for us? Overnight flights get sleeping compartments modules. Day flights? More modules, but this time, there are work spaces — or, rather more fantastically, workout areas. 

How to pay for it all? America’s favorite word: sponsors. Nothing says “brand commitment” like a captive audience, and nothing says “captive audience” like 300 passengers on a 10-hour flight from S.F. to Europe. Why wouldn’t Starbucks want to pour Frappuccinos — or, better yet, their new, as-yet-untested coffee-based beverage — down your throat for the duration of the flight? 

Even better: it’s a practical idea, according to the team behind it. Modules can be swapped in and out of airplane’s existing bodies, which means this idea could be years, not decades, away from happening: “The team has already recruited engineers and designers, and is working on a demonstration module (a restaurant) in a full-sized plane mockup.

Let’s do this, people!