Future shock: Report tips slow ‘flight cruises’ and printed airline food.

July 31, 2019
flight future
An exhibit at the British Airways BA2119 Flight of The Future event in collaboration with the Royal College of Art at Saatchi Gallery, London. Photo: Nick Morrish/BA

Bioscanners that tailor food and health supplements to your personal needs, immersive technology with holographic flight attendants and super-slow flight “cruises”.

These are some of the intriguing possibilities raised in one of the biggest global consumer travel studies of its kind about the future of flight.

The BA2119: Flight of Future Report commissioned by British Airways and produced by trend forecasters Foresight Factory surveyed 13,000 consumers in 10 countries. It also consulted with experts and futurologists to attempt to forecast what flying will become.

READ: BA’s swish new A350 lands at Heathrow

Some of the more fascinating options include:

  • Biological scanners in aircraft seats that identify travelers’ physiological and nutritional needs and suggest food and drink to meet those requirements. The food would be 3-D printed on board along with personalized health supplements to combat jetlag.
  • Transport modules that would travel to and from an aircraft via a hyperloop system and them slot into an onboard compartment. As the personalized module passes through the hyperloop tunnel, processes such as check-in, VISA check and preferences around food, drink and entertainment would be automatically carried out.
  • AI-powered personalization that would allow passengers to bring cloud-based work and entertainment profiles to their seats while holographic flight attendants answer basic questions and requests.
  • Supersonic and hypersonic flights that slash travel time. Manufacturers have already unveiled hypersonic concept aircraft that could fly from New York to London in just two hours and from Australia to Europe in less than five.
  • The emergence of slow, experimental flights that could take the form of “air cruises”. These would see aircraft flying slowly over areas of the interest such as the pyramids while virtual reality guides give passengers a running commentary.

“From air cruises offering in-flight yoga to solar-powered planes and floating re-fuelling stations, the next 100 years of flying will push the boundaries of technology and change the flying experience as we know it beyond recognition,’’ said Foresight Factory consultancy director John McBain.

The report found that consumers wanted their travel experience to be personalized and it predicted an end to the current class system.

It suggested this would see the rise of bespoke packages where consumers paid for customizable experience based on options for space and entertainment

Almost half of the consumers wanted a dedicated communal space for socializing, although this was more popular with people from emerging markets such as Brazil, India and China than passengers in the UK, Germany and Japan.

The environment was also a key consideration and 43 percent of respondents said they would be prepared to pay more for a flight that was environmentally friendly.

“These concerns trump the need for speed, with 45 percent saying they would opt for the slowest available flight if it was the greener option,’’ the report said.

“To deliver on these consumer demands, experts predict we will see planes powered by electricity and alternative fuels, with the ability to recharge in the air using aerial recharging stations, enabling them to travel much longer distances more sustainably.“

BA chief executive Alex Cruz said the report not only offered unprecedented insight into how consumers felt about flying now but what they would expect from airlines in the future.

“In the last ten years alone, the airline industry and flight experience have changed in so many significant ways, including improved fuel efficiency, noise reduction, in-cabin design and luxury,’’ he said. “It is therefore not hard to see how, at this rate of progress, these seemingly unreal predictions will come true.”

Concepts from the report have been brought to life by post-graduate students at the Royal College of Art in a special exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London running throughout August.