Airbus’s Jetliner Of The Future: Shape-Shifting Seats And A Virtual Golf Course

Airbus’s bionic concept plane has tons of gee-whiz features, the most impressive of which is this: It eradicates cabin classes.

Flying feels like it can’t get much worse for the plebes among us who don’t cough up six large for a plane ticket. Which means it’ll only get better, right? Right? Please say right?


If Airbus has its way, the answer is hell freaking yes. The European aircraft company has released a vision for a bionic plane in 2050 that turns your standard cabin into a sort of sci-fi country club. It’s got a virtual golf course, shape-shifting seats, aromatherapy, antioxidant-enriched air, and transparent walls for gobstopping, panoramic views. Did we mention a golf course? A golf course!

Instead of first or economy class, the plane would be divvied up into experiential “zones.”

The best part: The plane would do away with the cabin classes that’ve turned modern-day airlines in mini caste systems. Instead of first class, economy class, etc., the plane would be divvied up into three experiential ?zones?: a Smart Tech Zone for working or reading; an Interaction Zone for the aforementioned golf and other recreational activities; and a Vitalizing Zone for sleeping and relaxing (complete with holographic shades and a system that converts your body heat into cabin-powering energy). Which zone you sit in wouldn’t be determined by how much you paid for your ticket; passengers would simply pick a zone once on board.

Will the Airbus Concept Plane ever take to the skies? Doubtful. Fanciful ideas like this always make a big splash at trade shows — and sure enough, Airbus will present the design at the Le Bourget International Airshow in Paris later this month — but they rarely move beyond the concept stage, at least not in their entirety. Besides, the airline industry isn’t known for speedy innovation (see Boeing’s Dreamliner), and 2050 is pretty much the aeronautic equivalent of 5 minutes ago. The most likely scenario is that aspects of the design will be incorporated into future aircrafts. On that note, you’ll have to excuse us. We need to brush up on our golf swing.

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.