I have seen the future of air travel, and it will be (to use scientific jargon) freakin' awesome. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus today released its report on what air travel may be like in 2050. And all I can say is hold on to your hat, Cap'n Sully, because it is going to be one way cool ride.
Among the innovations in the Concept Cabin predicted by the Airbus visionaries are various "zones" where passengers can work, play, or relax in settings that are utterly un-plane-like. A "vitalizing zone" features antioxidant-enriched air, mood lighting, and aromatherapy treatments. In the "interactive zone" you can play holographic golf with friends on the ground or in other planes. Got work to do? Head for the "smart-tech zone," where seats change shapes to fit each individual and collect a passenger's body heat to power holographic multimedia "pop-up pods." But wait a minute. That's not even the best of it. The airplane of 2050 will have an "intelligent cabin membrane" that can become transparent to provide what Airbus describes as "open panoramic views." At last, one of my great desires in life—ever since I read Wonder Woman comics as a kid—may come true: invisible airplanes.
How much of this will actually come to pass is impossible to know. At this stage in the development of air travel, I would willingly settle for complimentary meals…free baggage check…no fuel surcharges…free headphones…space in the overhead bins...
Smart Traveler Mark Orwoll is the International Editor of Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @orwoll.