Last year, Emirates debuted its new first class cabin where every seat was a window seat. Even the seats in the middle of the plane along the aisle had windows — but not in the traditional sense.
Each first class seat was a tiny world of its own. Floor-to-ceiling walls and a sliding door made self-contained suites. The seats that were not along the edge of the plane had fake “virtual windows” built into the walls of the suites. Passengers in these seats could turn on the screens to see what was happening outside the plane with fiber-optic cameras.
The innovative design was meant to give every passenger the same experience no matter where they were seated, and that could become the norm.
“What we may have [in the next 20 years] is aircraft that are, and I hate to say this to a number of passengers, windowless,” Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, told the BBC.
These new planes would appear like solid, uninterrupted tubes from the outside but seem to have normal windows from inside the cabin.
Eliminating windows would make the fuselage stronger by eliminating structural weaknesses. According to Clark, planes without windows “are lighter, the aircraft could fly faster, they'll burn far less fuel and fly higher.”
However, there are a few safety concerns when it comes to eliminating the windows. Cabin crew use the windows for safety checks and during emergency evacuation. To become a reality, the fiber-optic cameras would need to prove there is no lag and that they have a reliable back-up system. A compromise could be only having real windows at the points of emergency exits, one aviation consultant suggested to the ABC.
Regardless of the technicalities, some claustrophobic passengers are just freaked out by the idea of a plane with no windows.