The Future of Flight?

NBC recently ran a story on the future of flying; 25 years in the future to be exact.  A faster flight was the first thing they mentioned,8-20-14-1 and as long as it’s safe I can’t think of anyone that would be against that.   They also mentioned Wi-Fi being more reliable in 2039.  I freaking hope that in twenty five years the kinks in in-flight Wi-Fi would have been worked out.  The next one to two years would be preferable! I feel like we are already seeing pretty impressive strides in that area just in the past year.  There’s still a long ways to go but in twenty five years I would think (hope?) Wi-Fi would be a thing of the past.  (Maybe they will replace Wi-Fi with Sci-Fi (Scientific Finding).)

There are a couple of other things that caught my eye in the story: a la carte pricing, and premium seats for the highest bidder. With à la carte pricing you would pay for the service you want based on the experience you want to have. For example, paying for a big seat but not get any special food or treatment, or paying for a small seat with a five course meal. They say essentially the current class system would go away.  I like the idea behind this but I’m having trouble believing airlines are heading in this direction.  More and more airlines are trying to find ways to make seats smaller so they can cram as many people in as possible.  Wherever an airline can find an unused inch on an aircraft they’ll find a way to turn it into an extra seat.   Anyway. Back to the à la carte pricing. I’m sure airlines will find a way to roll out something like that into the current system, but if I had to guess I would say the class system is here to stay.  Most likely we’ll see first class seats turn into what we currently see in coach, and coach will become something more like what you see in the story I linked to.  I really hope I’m wrong.

Next: selling seats to the highest bidder.  The example they gave was if a premium seat hasn’t sold the airlines would make an announcement asking for people to take out their phones and bid for that seat.  I have to say this just seems really crummy to me.  Airline ticket prices fluctuate more than any other ticket I can think of.  One day they’ll be dirt cheap and the next day they’ll be so high you can’t afford it.  If you wait to buy a ticket it’s essentially a crap shoot on whether or not you’ll get taken to the house.  Sure, bids will work out in passengers’ favor sometimes, but this never ending price game is making me crazy.  I know that’s not going to stop, but that’s not going to stop me from calling them out.

I was really hoping this article would have cool ideas in it, but so much of what it mentioned is already happening. Think about how much flight has changed in the last 35 years. Sure, some isn’t great–smaller seats, worse service. But there are IFDs, wifi, texting (in some cases). If this article’s depiction is the future of flight, the future is bleak indeed.


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