The Future of Flying Looks Great … If You Can Afford It
Fact: economy seats only seem like a giant rip-off. The ultimate irony of air travel is that upper-class passengers subsidize, to a significant degree, travel in the economy class. First and business class tickets are so expensive that they basically fly the plane themselves: “Though first class represents less than 5 percent of all seats flown on long-haul routes, and business class accounts for 15 percent, those seats combined to generate 40 to 50 percent of airlines’ revenue.”
Unsurprisingly, airlines are doing all they can to attract those customers — and accordingly, the future for the premium cabins is excellent. Forget lie-flat beds — the new trend is for totally private suites. One concept, First Spaces, goes so far as to replicate hotel-style living on a commercial plane. (It’s intended to woo super-high-end passengers who’d otherwise fly private.) The plane would allow passengers to book double suites or keep the space all to themselves.
Expect changes in business class, too — specifically those that make the most of the opportunity to network with like-minded fliers, like bars (see: Virgin Atlantic, c. 2002) or “a kitchen-like space for passengers to take snacks and drinks that also doubles as a place to socialize.”
As for economy? Better lighting, maybe, and improved entertainment options for anyone who didn’t long ago decide to load up their tablet of choice with enough movies to make it from Point A to B.
In other words? Especially at 30,000 feet, you get what you pay for.
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