The process of air travel has evolved greatly throughout COVID-19, and some organizations have taken this evolution one step further by creating renderings of completely redesigned airplane cabins for an international contest.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic first began, these organizations – which include the likes of Airbus, the University of Cincinnati, and Safran – submitted their “flying in the future” concepts to Hamburg Aviation’s 14th Crystal Cabin Award contest. Many of the designs that came out of these submissions look nothing like any cabin that currently exists and include touches like in-flight spas and capsule hotel-like sleeping spaces.
On March 30, Crystal Cabin announced the eight winners of its latest contest, which “make it clear that the aviation industry is not standing still despite the current crisis,” it wrote in a press release. Of these eight designs, four were of airplane cabins or economy seat concepts, while the rest included new ideas for trolleys, in-flight Bluetooth entertainment, and more.
These are the four winning cabin redesigns from the contest, which range from a “coffee house” look to private seats that can turn into gaming lounges. They’re not coming to aircraft any time soon, but they’re a hint at potential avenues the air travel experience might go down in the future.
1. Airbus’ flexible configurations
Airbus’ Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 went home with the “Visionary Concepts” award for its lounge-like “flexible” seating that can turn a guest’s space on the plane into a gaming lounge or a family hangout spot. The individual seats also provide some more privacy and options for customization as each seat can have its own “ambiance” setting.
The full Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 concept also includes an in-plane bar, sleeping bunks, and a gym, because who wouldn’t want to workout while a few thousand feet in the air?
2. Eviation Aircraft’s “fishbone” style
If you prefer the window seat, you might like this next design. Eviation Aircraft’s Alice, an electric commuter jet, won the “Cabin Concepts” trophy for its “fishbone” style seating arrangement.
The electric jet can carry nine people a little over 620 miles. With this concept seating arrangement, each passenger will get a view of the skies out the window.
3. University of Cincinnati’s “coffee house cabin”
If you’re on a deadline crunch, enjoy open-concept offices, or just want to feel productive on a flight, why not consider a coworking cabin space. The University of Cincinnati’s “coffee house cabin” took home the “University” award for its integration of a work table in the middle of the plane.
The concept is more than just a few chairs around a workspace. The table also comes with screens that can pop up, creating a physical separation for passengers sitting across from each other. And when the aircraft is taking off or landing, the chairs can turn to face the front of the plane, while the sides of the table can fold downwards.
In theory, the prices for these seats would be more expensive than basic economy, but more affordable than first class.
4. Safran Seats’ upgraded economy seats
If you’re stuck in economy and craving more comfortable seats, Safran may have a solution. Safran’s Modulair S concept took home the “Passenger Comfort Hardware” category award for its integration of neck rests, multi-level tables, and a designated space that can be used to prop up tablets.
JetBlue is firmly on the road back to normal as the pandemic enters its second year.
Flights are being filled to capacity as the airline stopped blocking seats in January following the Christmas travel rush. Middle seats had been blocked until October 15, 2020, around the time Southwest Airlines also announced an end to its policy.
But it didn’t stop there, JetBlue has been gradually moving away from pandemic-era safety measures like back-to-front boarding and has brought back fan favorites like soft drinks and more snacks in the in-flight service.
After flying JetBlue during the summer at the height of its safety efforts, I decided to take JetBlue home from Los Angeles to New York in March on one of its flagship routes. Here’s what flying JetBlue Airways is like in 2021.
Los Angeles is JetBlue’s new West Coast hub, having moved operations from nearby Long Beach during the pandemic.
JetBlue doesn’t have an entire terminal to itself as it does in New York here at LAX but it makes the space work.
Check-in kiosks were spaced and JetBlue even installed social distancing reminders on the floor.
Hand sanitizer stations were available next to the bag drop station.
And even the regular check-in line had multiple social distancing and face mask reminders from both the airline and the airport, in addition to plexiglass partitions at check-in counters. It was the most impressive setup I’d seen in the terminal.
JetBlue, like many US airlines, now requires customers to acknowledge a health declaration at check-in. I had to affirm that I didn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, been exposed to the virus, or tested positive for the virus.
I also had to agree to JetBlue’s face covering policy and affirm I didn’t have a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater.
I used the kiosk to print my boarding pass and was reminded about the touch-free option by using the JetBlue mobile application to do everything from check-in to get a mobile boarding pass. Customers checking a bag could also just scan their boarding pass and the bag tag would automatically print without having to touch the screen.
I booked JetBlue’s version of basic economy for this flight but I was luckily still assigned a window seat. Most of the middle seats went empty on the flight and I was glad to see JetBlue wasn’t randomly assigned seats as some other airlines are for basic economy flyers.
Ticket in hand, I headed to the gate and saw some of the same safety features. Plexiglass partitions were installed at the check-in counter and the airport had installed social distancing placards on the floor but that was about it.
Boarding soon began in JetBlue’s standard procedure based on groups. There was surprisingly no pre-boarding reminder to wear masks
Passengers boarding first included JetBlue elite status holders, those traveling in Mint business class, active duty military, families with small children, customers with disabilities, and travelers with “Even More Space” seats.
JetBlue gave up on back-to-front boarding in early March.
I got to my seat, 25A, and settled in for the overnight flight to New York.
Everything about the seat was clean and I didn’t have any worry there whatsoever.
Health and safety aside, I was immediately reminded why flying on JetBlue is one of the best ways to cross the country, especially when flying on this aircraft.
The Airbus A321 fleet, including the A321 and A321neo, are incredibly modern and comfortable. I’d flown across the US on four different airlines in two days but when I sat down on the JetBlue flight, it felt like home.
These aircraft feature one of JetBlue’s older in-flight entertainment products but they still offer touch-screen capabilities, high-definition displays, on-demand content, and a map screen.
It also helped that the airline offers 32 inches of legroom in economy on this aircraft.
The front of the aircraft naturally filled first thanks to the new boarding procedure but the aircraft was empty enough where the back started to fill before too many people were settled up front.
Even though it was an empty flight to New York, flight attendants asked passengers to go to their assigned seats first before moving around the cabin.
Flight attendants also reminded passengers of the safety features of the aircraft including its high-efficiency particular air filters, or HEPA filters, and reassuringly said that the aircraft was just cleaned and disinfected.
It was also made clear that wearing a mask was required by federal law.
We departed Los Angeles with around three-quarters of the plane full.
I lucked out and had the middle seat open but not every row was so lucky.
After departure, the entertainment screens showed a video outlining the health and safety features of the aircraft to reassure passengers. Airlines tend to do this at the gate but I was glad to see it on the aircraft right in front of passengers.
The “dos and don’ts” of flying on JetBlue were explained including wearing a face covering…
And don’t crowd the aisle. This one was interesting considering JetBlue had just removed back-to-front boarding and its middle seat block.
Even more messaging was available on the map channel.
This kind of messaging goes a long way to reassure flyers returning to the skies for the first time during the pandemic.
We quickly departed Los Angeles and turned eastbound towards New York. The in-flight service began shortly after takeoff.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that JetBlue had gotten rid of the plastic bag service and was serving actual soft drinks. I even got the full can.
Customers also had a choice of snacks including cookies, chips, Cheez-Its, or a granola bar. I went for the cookies.
The rest of the flight progressed smoothly as most passengers tried to get some sleep in on the five-hour flight.
New York soon came into view and the flight was approaching its natural end.
When we landed, there was a reminder to social distance when deplaning but most didn’t heed that warning. It’s only natural for flyers to get up as soon as the seat belt sign turns off.
Walking off the plane, I noticed JetBlue had installed its own safety placards in the jetway.
The terminal in New York was also way better equipped than in Los Angeles. JetBlue had installed its own hand sanitizers at the gate…
Automated boarding gates were available to reduce contact with the gate agents…
And seats in the gate area were even blocked off, in addition to social distancing placards lining the falls and plexiglass partitions installed at the gate.
Overall, JetBlue did a great job at ensuring passengers are safe in both of its hubs, even though it is shedding off some social distancing efforts as more flyers take to the skies. The flight felt closer to a normal experience but there was still a strong emphasis on health and safety at every turn.
Even casual Mint flyers will immediately notice the difference in the new product. Every seat offers fan favorites like direct aisle access and closeable doors that offer the utmost privacy, all in a residential-style designed suite.
The A321neo is one of JetBlue’s newest aircraft and can be found flying JetBlue’s longest routes including New York-Guayaquil, Ecuador thanks to its increased range and cost-saving economics. It’s also known for its quiet cabin and ultra-modern features like mood lighting.
The jet that will take JetBlue to Europe, however, has yet to arrive. The Airbus A321neoLR offers an even greater amount of range and JetBlue plans to pack it with even more business class suites to accommodate the near-endless supply of premium flyers on the route.
Here’s a sneak peek at the business class suites that will soon take JetBlue flyers to Los Angeles, London, and beyond.
The new Mint cabin on the A321neo is comprised of 16 business class suites arranged in a 1-1 configuration.
Each seat is angled in what’s known as a herringbone configuration, allowing the airline to fit more seats in the cabin while maintaining privacy. It’s an upgrade from the current Mint product as there are no paired seats in any row.
JetBlue offers two types of seats in the cabin. There’s the standard “Mint Suite…”.
And the larger “Mint Studio,” the cabin’s flagship seat.
The cabin has 14 Mint Suites spanning seven rows while the first row has the only Mint Studios, and they come at an additional premium.
Those that pay extra for the Mint Studio get an entire 22.7-square-foot cabin to themselves.
There’s more room to spread out, especially when the seat is in the lie-flat position.
JetBlue even installed a separate cushioned seat here so a companion can share the space.
Other amenities exclusive to the seat include a personal closet that can be used to store anything from a purse to shoes or a jacket. A small mirror is there to help freshen up after, say, an overnight flight to London
The in-flight entertainment screens in these enclaves are also the largest on the plane at 22 inches.
An additional tray table is built-in so companions can share a meal or get work done together. And if traveling solo, the table can also be used as simply an additional countertop to hold papers, a laptop, or food items.
The screen doesn’t extend all the way, however, so watching a movie together might difficult.
Standard seat amenities are also included like a tethered remote to control the in-flight entertainment…
A large countertop with individually-controlled lighting…
Wireless charging capabilities…
And a laptop holder under the screen, among other unique touches.
The regular suites are narrower but still comfortable and spacious when seated thanks to the suite’s curved walls.
For those that love looking out of the window, however, the angle of the seat makes doing that a bit harder as it requires turning one’s head at least 90 degrees.
Placed on each seat will be the standard business class amenities for the flight. A new service offering was just rolled out in November that includes a new partnership with the Delicious Hospitality Group, Tuft & Needle, Wanderfuel, and Master & Dynamic.
Among other items, passengers will get a pair of JetBlue-specific Master & Dynamic noise-isolating headphones…
Bedding kit from Tuft & Needle…
And a wellness kit from Wanderfuel.
Privacy-minded travelers at each seat can close the suite door for additional exclusivity.
A blue “do not disturb” sign can also be activated to let flight attendants know to skip certain passengers for the meal service.
All seats in the cabin were developed by Tuft & Needle, JetBlue’s new sleep partner, and double as mattress pads for when it’s time to sleep. Tuft & Needle also created the bedding that includes a “foot nook.”
Transcontinental flying between New York and Los Angeles is going low-cost.
Spirit Airlines plans to launch flights between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Los Angeles International Airport this summer from June 12 to September 4. Flight NK2151 departs New York at 7:20 a.m. and arrives in Los Angeles at 10:30 a.m. with the return flight, NK2152, departing at 1:30 p.m. and arriving back in New York at 10:05 p.m.
The catch, however, is that flights will only operate on Saturdays.
A 1984 rule from the airport’s operator, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, limits how far flights from LaGuardia can be at 1,500 nautical miles. Denver is the only exception and flights can be flown to the Colorado capital any day of the week.
Countless airlines have tried to make Saturday-only flights to far-off destinations work with varying degrees of success. United Airlines once flew non-stop between LaGuardia and Montrose, Colorado and Southwest offered flights to Phoenix. Both routes have not returned to the airport.
American Airlines, however, currently flies to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Aruba in the Caribbean on a Saturday-only basis.
The Airbus A320neo, Spirit’s flagship aircraft, will serve the new transcontinental route and feature the airline’s latest seat products, as Insider found on a recent trip from Newark to Boston.
Spirit will also fly from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico on a Saturday-only basis starting on April 17, as well as daily to Nashville, Tennessee starting May 5. The ultra-low-cost carrier will be the only airline offering flights to San Juan and Los Angeles from LaGuardia, as of now.
LaGuardia will also see a terminal shakeup with Spirit flights for Fort Lauderdale moving to Terminal A, also known as the Marine Air Terminal, on April 28. Currently home to JetBlue Airways, LaGuardia’s smallest terminal is a holdover from the early days of New York City aviation and boasts short walking distances from the curb to any gate.
Flights to Los Angeles, San Juan, and Nashville, as well as Spirit’s existing destinations besides Fort Lauderdale, will still use Terminal C, home to Delta Air Lines.
Airbus’ A220-300 is among the newest passenger aircraft in American skies, and it just started flying passengers for Delta in November.
The pandemic masked the aircraft’s arrival but Delta has already taken delivery of six planes that offer an impressive passenger experience with in-flight entertainment and mood lighting among them.
On the technical side, the A220-300 boasts an impressive transcontinental range of around 3,400 nautical miles and seats 130 passengers in Delta’s configuration that includes a first class cabin. Fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney engines also give Delta a fuel savings of around 20% when compared to similar aircraft.
I flew on the six-month-old aircraft on a recent Delta flight from Houston, Texas to Salt Lake City in February.
Take a look inside Delta’s latest arrival, the Airbus A220-300.
My flight on the A220-300 was from Houston to Salt Lake City, where the aircraft is primarily based. This route is where the A220-300 began its flying career for Delta on November 16, 2020.
I could tell before even stepping foot on the plane that this was going to be an elevated product as the aircraft’s mood lighting was visible from the jetway and a new nameplate had been installed in the galley.
This is the first time I’d seen this nameplate on a Delta flight, and it was a nice touch to an otherwise wasted wall.
The aircraft features 130 seats in a two-class configuration consisting of first class and economy class.
First class is comprised of 16 recliner seats in a paired 2-2 configuration.
It’s the smallest first class cabin of any Delta mainline jet so getting an upgrade might be difficult, especially as Delta is blocking adjacent seats until April 30.
I have elite status with Delta and didn’t have a hope of getting into the exclusive cabin.
The spacious seats feature 20.5 inches of pitch and 37 inches of pitch. Foldable tray tables are also stored in the armrest.
These seats also feature passenger-facing coat hangars, USB charging ports, and 110v AC power outlets, along with a larger in-flight entertainment screen.
Economy then features the remaining 118 seats across 24 rows.
Seats are offered in a 3-2 configuration, which isn’t commonly found on modern airliners but suits the needs of different types of travelers.
Couples traveling together might prefer the two-seat pair so they don’t have to deal with a third person in the row.
Larger groups such as families might prefer the three-person side so everybody can sit in the same row.
Delta Comfort+, the airline’s extra-legroom product, takes up the first six rows on the Airbus A220-300.
Delta charges extra for these seats but they do come with earlier boarding privileges, premium snacks, and complimentary alcoholic beverages in addition to the extra legroom.
A Delta Comfort+ seat on the A220-300 offers 34 inches of pitch and 18.1 inches of width in most seats.
The rest of the cabin’s amenities are the same as regular economy.
Comfort+ seats, however, are marked by a red headrest cover.
Regular main cabin seats feature between 30 and 32 inches of pitch, depending on the seat’s location.
Seat width for these seats is 18.6 inches.
Those wanting more legroom can opt for the exit row seats in row 17. Seat 18E also features near-unlimited legroom as there’s no seat in the row in front of it.
And all seats feature adjustable headrests.
Full-size luggage can also fit in the overhead above, eliminating the need to gate check larger bags as is the case on smaller regional aircraft.
Another nice touch was the Delta branding in the back of the plane. I’ve noticed this on foreign airlines and it was great to see Delta adopting it on the A220.
The entire cabin was illuminated with the mood lighting, giving the cabin a more modern and relaxing feel that’s common on newer planes.
The cabin, overall, felt warm and welcoming. I was excited to see how it handled when in the air.
I was lucky enough to get upgraded into Comfort+ and was given a window seat in a three-seat row.
I prefer the two-seat side for easy aisle access but Delta’s seat blocking policy meant I didn’t have to worry about having a neighbor in the middle seat.
The seat was perfectly comfortable and the extra legroom gave me more room to stretch out.
In-seat power is available at all seats with 110v AC power outlets below and USB charging ports in the seat-back screens.
All seats also feature in-flight entertainment systems with touch-screen capabilities.
Delta Studio, as the system is known, includes movies…
A moving map, and more.
In-flight WiFi is also offered for a price. T-Mobile customers, however, get a free hour.
Another quirky feature of Delta’s A220 is the miniature screen above the first row. Some A220 operators have this over every row but Delta did not.
Powering the aircraft are two Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engines offering additional fuel efficiency and reduced cabin noise levels.
I was seated right next to one of them and was amazed at how quiet they were compared to others.
Our takeoff was quite smooth despite the rainy conditions in Houston. The A220 handled turbulence well when things got choppy.
We settled off at 30,000 feet for the three-hour flight to Salt Lake City, and flight attendants began the in-flight service.
The normal premium snacks offered to Comfort+ passengers were replaced with a uniform snack bag given to all in economy. The bag included Goldfish, Biscoff cookies, a bottle of water, and a sanitary wipe.
I headed to the back of the plane to see the aircraft’s quirkiest feature, the lavatory with its own window. This feature isn’t unique to the A220 but isn’t commonly found on other jets.
The nickname affectionately given to the lavatory is the “loo with a view.” True to the name, the view isn’t too bad.
I also noticed that Delta had installed handwashing instructions as part of its new pandemic health and safety protocols.
The rest of the flight was peaceful as the cabin was incredibly quiet.
Our flight was quickly coming to an end after a few hours as we started down towards Salt Lake City. The oversized windows really helped with getting the best views of the city and surrounding mountains on the approach.
We went from rainy Houston to rainy Salt Lake City but the A220-300 was an absolute joy to fly on. I was so glad to see Delta keeping fan favorites like seat-back entertainment on the new jet since some airlines are moving away from that amenity.
I’ll definitely be seeking out the aircraft in future travels.
Frontier Airlines is facing claims of anti-Semitism after a routine flight from Miami to New York City was canceled on Sunday due to maskless passengers, the New York Times is reporting.
Passengers had boarded flight 2878 from Miami International Airport to LaGuardia Airport and were preparing for the three-hour trip north when a confrontation erupted between a group of Hasidic Jewish passengers and crew members that resulted in the group’s ejection from the flight.
“Multiple people, including several adults, were asked repeatedly to wear their masks and refused to do so,” Frontier spokesperson Jennifer De La Cruz told Insider. “Based on the continued refusal to comply with the federal mask mandate, refusal to disembark the aircraft and aggression towards the flight crew, local law enforcement was engaged. The flight was ultimately canceled.”
Martin Joseph, a member of the 21-person group, denied the airline’s account and claims the issue initially stemmed from his 15-month-old child not wearing a mask while eating, he told the Times. After members of Joseph’s group defended the child, citing the federal government’s exemption for children under two, his family and nearby couples were removed from the flight,
“We understand that the mask has to be worn, and everybody has to wear a mask and that’s the law,” Joseph told the Times.
Frontier’s policy echoes the government policy but the airline is holding firm on its account that the escalation came as a result of adults not wearing masks and not just the 15-month-old child.
“The issue did not stem from a child under two,” Frontier said in a tweet that has since received over 3,000 replies at the time of writing.
Other passengers say that Joseph’s group had been wearing masks during their interactions with the crew, who had reportedly high-fived each other after removing the group from the plane, spurring claims of anti-Semitism. One passenger screamed, “this is Nazi Germany,” as the passengers were deplaning, according to a video posted to Twitter by the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council.
The Anti-Defamation League of New York is calling for an investigation into the incident.
British Airways just dealt a blow to its premium customers as the airline is scrapping the all-business class aircraft formerly offered on the billion-dollar London-New York flagship route, Aviation Week reported.
The VIP-configured Airbus A318 aircraft was the only one of its kind in the British Airways fleet when its retirement was announced in July. The service boasted enhanced convenience and luxury to the business travelers that frequented the route and, with capacity for only 32 passengers, it was among the closest to a private jet in the airline world.
British Airways used the service to solidify its place as the route’s go-to premium carrier, replacing the Concorde as the crown jewel of the airline’s transatlantic offering. The smaller and more exclusive A318 service catered to the airline’s top spenders with a direct link between New York City and London’s financial district.
It was also a bucket list flight for many aviation enthusiasts since the A318 was already itself a rare aircraft on which to fly, let alone on a transatlantic journey and in an all-business class configuration. But the aircraft is no longer in British Airways’ fleet after being sent to be dismantled in the Netherlands, according to Aviation Week.
Take a look inside the most exclusive aircraft to connect New York and London since the Concorde.
Most people traveling between New York and London on British Airways before the pandemic found themselves either flying on a Boeing 747-400…
Or Boeing 777-200.
The two make up the majority of flights flying the $1 billion route between the two economic hubs but most don’t know about the third aircraft that flew British Airways’ top clients: the Airbus A318.
The smallest member of the Airbus A320 family, the A318 was a commercial flop for Airbus that only saw a handful of customers, mostly in Europe.
The aircraft is out of production and though British Airways was among the last and smallest operators of the type, it made the aircraft an icon in transatlantic aviation by flying it between New York and London.
While the thought of flying on a short-haul aircraft across the Atlantic may seem unappealing, there’s a catch to this aircraft in that it’s configured in an all-business class configuration.
Only 32 seats make up that sole premium cabin that’s spread out across eight rows.
And though small in size, this A318 had no shortage of comfort as all rows featured business class seats with fully lie-flat capabilities. These seats are not found on similar aircraft.
Amenities and features at each seat standard for business class included a plush pillow and blanket kit from The White Company….
Amenity kit from The White Company…
Foldable tray table…
Personal reading lamp…
110v AC power outlet…
And adjustable headrest.
Apple iPads were also distributed in lieu of seat-back entertainment screens.
Each row also had multiple windows for better views of the crossing during the day.
Though the standard in business class is now enclosed private suites which the A318 didn’t offer, a small divider separated the paired seats for an additional morsel of privacy.
Only three flight attendants serviced the passengers, providing a full business class meal service and drinks for the 3,000-nautical mile journey.
The seats were controlled via the armrest, with numerous customizable positions.
The lie-flat capability of the seats was ideal for the evening red-eye flight from New York to London, allowing business travelers to get a comfortable full night’s rest and head straight to work or meetings the next morning.
British Airways frequently saw passengers arriving in New York and London only to return within the next 24 hours, with the near downtown-to-downtown service allowing for a quick and luxurious in-and-out of the world’s top business centers.
While not the most modern business class product, the service as a whole made the Airbus A318 the aircraft of choice for those who could afford it when flying between London and New York.
And with only eight rows and 32 seats, the aircraft felt more like a private jet than a commercial airliner. Case in point, the flight before my visit in March 2020 only had five passengers on board.
As the aircraft couldn’t make it from London to New York nonstop – even with the reduced passenger load – it made a stop in Shannon, Ireland for fuel, where it also cleared US Customs and Border Protection.
Upon landing in New York, passengers onboard BA1 arrived in the terminal as they would if it were a domestic flight, with no further passport checks required.
British Airways only had one A318 in its fleet, G-EUNA, which solely flew this route.
Designed with business travelers in mind, the aircraft flew every day of the week except Saturdays.
It was intended to fill the gap left by the Concorde in 2003, with the A318’s first flight occurring in 2009.
G-EUNA flew the flag on British Airways’ flagship route wearing either the flight number BA1 or BA2 – depending on which direction it was flying – for 11 years before the coronavirus pandemic ended its tenure permanently in July.
Though not as fast as Concorde, the service was nearly every bit as exclusive, earning the nickname “Concorde’s baby sister.”