Written by By Tara Bannow, for CNN
“When a business class seat is not extended, it flies forward, but to reveal the passenger in first class.” This was one of the flights notes found by an Austrian researcher who put two and two together and came up with a theory of what business class may look like in 2025.
The futuristic scenario is one of the ideas proposed by Charles Mackerras, founder of Canadian think tank Mackerras Group, who spoke to CNN earlier this year.
“Flights of the future will depend on technology which will make future air travel less sedentary and much more active,” said Mackerras.
For example, in a press release outlining the group’s findings, the airline named a next-generation seat which is possible in 2025 by embedding “ultra-wideband communication modules” in the seat itself.
Due to the high price of the modules, these could only be used for business class because no economy seat with them will be feasible.
A seat in business class during a demonstration flight. Credit: Raymond Letts/Everett Collection/REX/Shutterstock
The modules would send and receive information and information would be stored in each passenger’s head rest. With this knowledge, flight attendants could turn the seat to the passenger’s needs, such as allowing the person behind them to sleep.
“The ultra-wideband modules will also allow the airline to manage access to the aircraft in the future by using actuators instead of security gates, which means that planes will no longer need to be stowed to load and unload passengers,” added Mackerras.
Speaking with CNN earlier this year, Cathay Pacific CEO Rob Feenie hinted the airline would be looking at a future with an expanded business class.
“We’re doing some trials in a range of destinations — not just in Hong Kong but around the world,” he said. “On this next generation of our aircraft, we will be able to help customers adjust and let them interact more. I think you’ll see more personalization, more customization.”
For a new generation of business class, cargo is here. Credit: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint/Everett Collection/REX/Shutterstock
The future of flying
A capsule aircraft may be in the cards if these predictions come true. FlightRadar24 flew an Airbus Concorde-inspired A320 prototype around Australia’s Great Barrier Reef last year to simulate what a commercial flight might look like. The plane stayed at 18,000 feet for nearly two hours, about as high as airplanes fly today, allowing pilots to minimise turbulence.
Mackerras believes we’ll see significant changes within decades.
“I think we will continue to evolve business class to suit people who want a bigger seat and bigger view. But our preference will be for aircraft with more legroom and a wider cabin. High tech is now a part of every airline.”
In the meantime, passengers can prepare for a time when business and first class often act as one.
“All airlines are beginning to evolve their flight plans and the routes they offer to fit passengers’ needs,” said Mackerras. “Let’s not forget that everyone wants to move around.”