Airline innovations no flights of fancy
WHOwould have thought, when the Wright brothers unveiled their flying machines in a dusty field in Carolina, that little more than a century later planes would feature amenities such as spas, bars, internet connections and gourmet cuisine.
Airlines are investing millions of dollars in their fleets to compete for our holiday dollars and loyalty, and for travellers it’s a win-win situation.
Today we can enjoy hautecuisine meals from top-end chefs prepared on request midflight, take a shower en route to Dubai, or stretch out for a comfortable night’s sleep: perhaps in a private double suite in Singapore Airlines’ first class, a Spaceseat (rows of seats that can be flattened and linked) on Air New Zealand or even one of the triple bunk beds touted for Lufthansa.
And those who once suffered from mile-high ‘‘link-lag’’ can rest easy. Virtually every means of communication — mobile phone calls, SMS messaging, email and internet connections — is now available midair. Then there’s the bewildering array of entertainment options — movies, games, television and more — available in all cabin classes these days.
Innovations on the ground are just as breathtaking, with the advent of glamazon airport lounges with spas and bars, shops, pools, movie theatres, teeth-whitening booths and even fly-in wedding venues.
Check-in now involves little more than a quick-as-a-flash printout via a computer or mobile phone app or a swipe of your frequent flyer card, with many passengers now tagging and dropping their own bags before proceeding to security.
E-passports, meanwhile, can ease passage through immigration on arrival at your final destination.
Comfortable, entertaining, seamless flights and airports that are more user-friendly than the local shopping mall . . . those canny Wright brothers might well wonder what they started all those years ago.