Depending on how you feel about flying, what I’m about to tell you might be either awesome news or terrible news: The future of air travel is here, and it’s windowless airplanes. You heard me — all we have right now in airplanes are tiny, dinky little windows, and even those might be going away within the next ten years. Are you guys having as many thoughts and feelings about the idea as I am? Because I’m having a lot of them — and I do mean a lot.
According to The Guardian, the early designs come from the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a company based in the north of England that helps other companies develop new products. These designs feature high def, ultra thin, lightweight screens lining the interior of the aircraft; they would display images of the outside gathered from cameras mounted around the exterior of the plane. The idea is being applauded pretty much across the board, and it’s true that there are a lot of plusses to it… but that doesn’t change how I ultimately feel about it, which is absolutely terrified. Seriously, you guys. I'm freaking out. Please tell me I'm not the only one.
Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons, shall we?
- High-tech awesomeness.
- Reduction in aircraft weight.
- Reduction in fuel consumption.
- Reduction in ticket prices.
- Built-in email and web browsing options.
- The ability to view whatever you want outside the non-window.
- Not good for claustrophobic people.
- The world could be ending outside the aircraft and you wouldn’t even know it.
I know for some people that last con might actually be a pro — blinking out of existence in blissful ignorance might be preferable to a particular type of person — but if I’m going out, I’d rather know it was coming. And speaking as a sufferer of claustrophobia, there’s something about knowing I’m looking at the actual outside that makes me freak out just a little bit less — a coping mechanism I wouldn’t be able to use in an airplane with no windows. It wouldn’t matter that I could make it look as expansive as I wanted; I’d still know that I’m trapped in a tiny metal tube with no way to see outside.
The big question that remains, of course, is what kinds of things we’ll actually see displayed on all those interior screens. Twitter, thankfully, is on it, breaking out their best Photoshop skills with a few examples. Some of them might not be so bad, like this one (although the day that imaginary Death Star becomes an actual Death Star, we’ll know we’re sunk):
And some might be equal parts cool and freaky, like this one:
But others are… shall we say, somewhat less enjoyable. It’s probably inevitable that airlines will begin selling ad space:
And what if the whole system crashes?
I can’t think of anything more irritating than being surrounded by the Blue Screen of Death for hours at a time. Ugh.
If, however, the whole windowless plane idea really takes off, I suppose I’ll just have to get over my misgivings and deal with it. It’s been common knowledge for a while now that most airlines aren’t doing so well, and although budget cuts have attempted to alleviate the problem, it doesn’t really seem like they’re working. Also, I’m pretty sure most of us are sick of getting nickeled and dimed for every little thing whenever we fly these days. If windowless planes are a feasible solution, then so be it. Maybe it’s time for me to invest in a good-quality eye mask reserved solely for the purposes of air travel. Or to become the person who bows down to the Xanax gods. Either/or.