Airplanes

Would you sleep in an airplane cargo section?

Here’s an unusual look at the flying future introduced by Airbus and Zodiac Aerospace at the Aircraft Interior Expo taking place in Hamburg this week.

The two companies say they are developing lower-deck modules with sleeping berths as an option for the cargo compartment of an aircraft.

These passenger modules are envisioned as being easily interchangeable with regular cargo containers and easily put in or taken out during a typical turnaround as they don’t require any modification of the cargo area flooring.

The modules, which could be configured for other uses besides sleeping, offer airlines “new opportunities for additional services to passengers, improving their experience while enabling airlines to differentiate and add value for their commercial operations,” the companies said in a statement.

“This approach to commercial air travel is a step change towards passenger comfort. We have already received very positive feedback from several airlines on our first mock-ups,” said Geoff Pinner, Head of Airbus Cabin & Cargo Programme.

The plan is to get approval for the modules by 2020 and to roll them out first on A330 aircraft.

Ready for this?

What would make your trip to the airport more fun?

(Early flying car – the Aerocar)

I’m excited, honored – and a bit nervous – about being a moderator for several sessions during Monday’s Passenger Experience Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

The topics my presenters will be tackling in the Covergence and Mobility stream range from how mobile technology might better (or ever) tie together the many ways we now have to travel through the world (bikes, taxis, car share, trains, planes, etc…) to how – and when – we might eat or do other things along the way.

I’ll be sharing notes, pictures and musings here and on Twitter (@hbaskas) about these presentations and the new and exciting products and ideas that are presented throughout the week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo and several related events being held in Hamburg this week.

Standy by and please feel free to send your questions to me here – or via Twitter (@hbaskas) – about what’s in store for getting to and from airports and for flying on airplanes.

 

 

Snaps from a visit to an airport bag well

As part of research for an upcoming story, I spent two days visiting the ‘bag well’ at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport finding out what happens to your checked lugagge once you hand it over to your airline.

The short version: your bag travels on a freeway-like conveyor system that sends the bag to and through a TSA explosives detection machine and then back to the airline for sorting so can be sent to your airplane and loaded onto it.  The bag tag is scanned multiple times along the way to keep tabs on its whereabouts.

Here are some snaps from my adventure. Stay tuned for the full story.

 

 

Souvenir Sunday: 747-themed amenity kits on United

United Airlines is going to retire its Boeing 747 fleet on November 7 and to mark the occasion the airline is giving out 747-themed Polaris amenity kits starting Monday, October 23, through January 2018.

Silver kits go to first class customers, while blue kits will be handed out to business class fliers. In addition to the usual amenity kit items, each kit contains a pack of five 747 trading cards, so you can swap with your friends.

Passengers on United’s premium transcontinetnal routes (EWR-SFO, EWR-LAX, BOS-SFO) will receive (smaller, but just as charming) commemorative kits as well.

 

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British Airways gets its 25th 787 Dreamliner

British Airways took delivery of its 25th 787 Dreamliner last week and I had the pleasure of riding along from the Boeing factory in Everett, WA to London’s Heathrow Airport.

Before the flight, everyone was treated to a tour of the Boeing factory floor, where we were permitted to snap a few photos along the way.


There was no plane-side ceremony, but there was at least one pre-flight surprise for the passengers taking the ride: we (along with our hand baggage) were all weighed before the flight. Ladies first!

The explanation was something about gathering some important data for this and other flights, but I made sure not to step on the scale without my (very heavy….) backpack.

Hand baggage weighed separately met us planeside and we were ready to board and take-off.

Eveyone on this flight got a Club World seat, which are configured in a ying/yang (and, in the center  – 3 across, in a ying/yang/ying) configuration with a panel between seats that passengers can choose to raise or lower.

My favorite feature of the seat is the the floor-level storage drawer, which was big enough to hold my shoes and a variety of other items I wanted closed by.

British Airways engineers on the delivery flight were happy to chat with media on board and confirmed that, as part of the pre-delivery inspection, one thing they do is sit in every seat, looking for scratches and other issues and making sure the wiring is correct for the in-flight entertainment system for each passenger.

On landing at Heathrow, the pilots invited passengers into the cockpit and insisted we take a seat and snap a photo, even adjusting the seat so that it looked ‘real’.

Thanks, British Airways, for the ride to London!