With the new batch of winners from the Crystal Cabin Awards come a whole new airplane feature wishlist.

By Erika Owen
April 12, 2016
crystal cabin awards sekisui spi infusion imagery
Credit: SEKISUI SPI displayed their Infused Imaging™ technology on KYDEX® thermoplastics at stand 5C60 during the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.

The Crystal Cabin Awards annually recognize some of the most impressive airplane technology around, and this year a new category was added to the mix: Cabin Concepts. There seems to be a new life changing airplane innovation every day (from staggered middle seat designs to cabins that completely detach from the rest of the airplane for easy passenger loading), but the recent winners from this year's Crystal Cabin Awards have taken our future flying dreams to the next level.

You can check out the full list of finalists and winners on the Crystal Cabin website. Ahead, a few favorites from the 2016 batch of winners:

Prettier Interiors

It isn't all that often an airplane interior causes one to think, "Wow, I'd love that design on my walls at home." This year's winner in the Material & Components category is looking to change that. Sekisui SPI's Infused Imaging process (pictured above) would allow airlines to incorporate custom patterns—literally anything that could be turned into an image—into the cabin interiors. Just think: you could be flying through the skies in a custom piece of artwork sometime in the future.

Hammock-esque Neck Rests

A group of students from the Delft University of Technology seemed to have come up with a possible solution for those incredibly uncomfortable head pillows most airplane seats have. Their design, which they named "HeadRest," requires the passenger to expand two folded wings, exposing a small net that catches the head. Not only does it encourage a natural range of movement, but it adds a touch of privacy with its wings, which stick out 90 degrees from the head rest when in use and act as blinders of sort. The design took top honors in the University category of the awards.

Sectioned Cabin Space

Zodiac Aerospace sees the future of flying as more of a social experience with sectioned-off areas of the airplane dedicated to different tasks. For example, one area of the cabin may be specifically designed for flyers looking to catch some sleep while another section may be solely for socializing with other passengers. The latter has been adopted by first-class airlines, but a well-designed area for napping passengers could be life-changing. Even more interesting is this design's focus on airline seating: their take offers to seating options for flyers—a normal level with knees at a 90-degree angle and a slightly higher option with more room to stretch the legs. This design took home the gold in the Visionary Concepts category.

Self-Cleaning Bathrooms

It may not be the germiest place on an airplane (the tray tables that that honor), but "clean" isn't a word that's often associated with airplane bathrooms. Boeing has something to say about that. We've previously covered the brand's design for a self-cleaning lavatory, but more recently the plan took first place in the Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment category. The secret to this design is strategically placed far ultraviolet lights, which promise to kill common forms of bacteria in three seconds after it's exposed to the light.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.