Aircraft interior design firm Aim Altitude has unveiled a vision for social spaces on ultra-long-haul flights called Ultraflex, where passengers can mingle, workout or dine with friends.
At the moment, most planes have cramped, grubby galleys by the toilets where people can stretch their legs, but in the future things may be very different, especially on ultra-long-haul flights.
It’s fair to say that airlines need to squeeze in as many seats as possible to turn a profit, but on journeys of 12 hours or longer (such as Singapore to New York at 18 hours 30 minutes with Singapore Airlines), there is a dawning realisation that they may have to improve overall comfort levels if they actually want to sell any tickets.In anticipation of this, Aim Altitude has come up with Ultraflex, “a multi-functional destination area where passengers may move around, interacting with activities and each other, to alleviate boredom and aid health and well-being”.
“Perch Monuments” would provide inviting places to stand and chat, alleviating the strains of sitting for long periods of time.
Meanwhile, Deli Galleries would take the form of stylish, self-service fridges stocked with food and drink. Aim Altitude says: “This also allows the opportunity for product display space, which could be made available to outside companies for sponsorship.”Another great idea is the installation of Flex Booths for people to do yoga in with a little added privacy. The company says: “Multi-use, versatile, transforming booths give the cabin interior key flexibility. These booths can be used in various modes for entertainment, engagement and well-being.“In Wellness Mode, the Flex Booth offers space and a more private area where passengers can follow stretching and wellness guides.”
Aim Altitude believes being served a meal on a tray at your seat could be a thing of the past. The Flex Booth also gives airlines the option to give passengers a place to enjoy dinner with a companion, face to face. It says: “In Dine Mode, by folding down the table, this area effortlessly becomes a private dining area, where catered meals can be brought into the booth to introduce a more personal dining experience.
“Alternatively, snacks obtained from the deli galley may be eaten in privacy or shared with a friend. Equally, the area may become a work centre for shared conferences, with the table used for individuals’ laptops and small electronic devices.”
In Social Mode, a large area can be created for meditation, quiet contemplation or prayer. Aim Altitude says: “Soft fabrics and a calming design lend themselves to a tranquil zone where the passenger feels removed from the buzz of the rest of the aircraft and can enjoy a restful and reflective atmosphere.”What’s really genius are the Exercise Stations – take a seat with your laptop and burn some calories by pumping pedals beneath your feet. By getting the blood flowing, it will also help combat deep-vein thrombosis, potentially fatal blood clots also known as “economy class syndrome”.The Perch Bar and Premium Galley could be a place to screen sporting events and serve cocktails.Some airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and Emirates already have bars on board for first and business class passengers but Aim Altitude goes much further in its thinking.
It says: “Ultraflex provides a visionary insight into the possibilities of future flight layouts. All the modules are technically feasible for ultra-long-haul platforms and are conceived with full commercial certification in mind.
“Many airlines currently offer stunning in-flight social spaces but these are largely created from static
monuments that cannot offer the versatility of Ultraflex. The design innovations captured within Ultraflex elevate the concept to a new generation of adaptable units.
“New aircraft platforms and developed technologies have allowed ultra-long-haul flights to be part of our reality, but they have to become more appealing to passengers in order for airlines to realise the financial and organisational benefits.
“Ultraflex, in summary, creates a platform for airlines to develop a sought-after experience for passengers and a brand-defining offering for their customers.”After Qantas launched its epic 17.5-hour flight from London to Perth, it sent out a questionnaire asking 12,000 Qantas frequent fliers asking what they would like to see on planes flying an ultra-long-haul route such as this. Features included…
- A zone for stretching and exercise
- A bar, café or self-service restaurant
- A creche
- Virtual reality relaxation zones
- A work and study area, including workstations
- Better headphones with noise cancelling ability
- Larger bathrooms, big enough to ‘change and refresh’
The airline will use these findings to inform its “Project Sunrise” programme for ultra-long-haul flights of the future. By 2022, Qantas wants to be flying 18-20 hour sectors from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to London, New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
Qantas could be one of many airlines flying ultra-long-haul (along with Qatar Airways, United, Emirates and others) that call on Aim Altitude for help with reconfiguring their cabins.