The managing director of the industrial engineering firm JPA Design, London shares how we’ll fly in the future.
Q: What’s on the horizon for airline cabins?
A: When you look at aircraft, there’s a fair amount of space between people and the ceiling, and we’re trying to make use of it. One idea is 3-D seating, which applies mainly to business class. Lie-flat beds will be stacked, one above the other. Most people’s reaction is to think about bunk beds, but it’s more subtle than that.
Q: Which strategy do you wish all airlines would adopt?
A: It’s not missing in every case, but airlines would do well to keep the human connection front of mind. It’s what sticks with people. The smarter players understand that crew training is something worth investing in.
Q: Are there any products you are excited about?
A: We’re paying more attention to “smart” materials—ones that have secondary functionality, like a coating that can kill bacteria. You can use them on control buttons, handheld devices, and other high-touch areas on a plane.
Q: Which trend needs to go away?
A: There are a lot of disposable items handed out to passengers. But it’s far more intelligent to boil it down to things that are genuinely useful. We did an amenity kit for American Airlines, and the bag is actually an iPad case.
Brooke Porter Katz is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.