TPG Lounge poll: Innovations travelers want to see on board their next flight

Sep 15, 2019

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Last month, Airbus deployed the aircraft manufacturer’s first ‘connected aircraft.’ The connected aircraft, an Airbus A350-900, features sensors throughout the aircraft that allow the manufacturer to collect data, such as “data on passenger behavior and consumption on board,” according to a report from CNBC.

Eventually, Airbus hopes to use the data collected in-flight to gain a better understanding of what passengers do on board and potentially save airlines money.

So on the heels of the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer’s latest in-flight innovations, TPG decided to survey readers to find out what in-flight innovations they hope to see on future flights. Here are some of the top responses.

Self-service options

Having the option to serve yourself on flights is not a new concept. From walk-up bars for premium passengers to smaller mini-fridges and snack baskets in coach, in-flight self-service options have been around for quite some time. Still, the concept has yet to be widely adopted, with just a handful of airlines allowing passengers to serve themselves in-flight.

(Photo by Rolf Schulten/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Passengers want the option to serve themselves in-flight or order a la carte options via instant messaging. (Photo by Rolf Schulten/ullstein bild via Getty Images)

Multiple TPG readers who responded to the survey added that they’d like the option to serve themselves in-flight rather than wait for traditional in-flight service. Carol P. echoed many readers in saying she would like to see airlines add “water and coffee dispensers so we can serve ourselves on long haul flights.”

A number of readers hope that more airlines follow in the footsteps of defunct Virgin America, adding the option to order a la carte food and drink. ” I want to order my onboard drink by instant message” requested one reader.

Common spaces and a place to spread out

There’s only so much an airline can do to improve comfort in the main cabin. More so, in-flight service is just one aspect of an enjoyable flight. What a number of readers want on their future flights is the option to spread out.

A few readers hope that common spaces make a comeback on long-haul flights. Common spaces like in-flight lounges were once a point of pride for the world’s airlines. In the 1970s, American Airlines’ Boeing 747SPs featured a piano bar for passengers seated in the main cabin. Today, while some airlines feature common spaces, bars and lounges, they are typically reserved for passengers seated in premium cabins.

This image from the late 1950s shows an on-board lounge on a Pan Am Boeing 707 (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images) (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
This image from the late 1950s shows an onboard lounge on a Pan Am Boeing 707 (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images) (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Readers who responded to the survey requesting common spaces on long-haul flights were quite reasonable in their expectations. Readers didn’t want the old school fancy piano bar or some luxe lounge. Instead, one reader responded asking that airlines merely introduce a dedicated area that would give passengers “a space where you can spend a few minutes stretching out.”

Better in-flight tech

In-flight technology has greatly improved over the past decade. In-flight Wi-Fi, once a luxury, is now commonplace. When it was first introduced, in-flight Wi-Fi was almost unusable and limited bandwidth combined with slow speeds meant streaming content was not an option. Today, a number of airlines now offer passengers the option to stream their own content thanks to improvements in in-flight Wi-Fi.

Passengers also want to see airlines add additional technology and improve existing in-flight entertainment options. This was a common theme among respondents. A number of airlines offer passengers the option to view cameras mounted on the exterior of the aircraft via the in-flight entertainment system. Some readers want airlines to add additional camera angles and improve existing cameras.

The tail-cam view from Qatar's A350-1000. Photo by Zach Honig.
The tail-cam view from Qatar’s A350-1000. (Photo by Zach Honig)

Hing P. responded to the survey adding that he hopes to see airlines add new camera angles. “I’d rather have more external cameras. Some airlines offer views from the tail or underneath near the landing gear. I’d like a cockpit view and a view just to the front of each wing.”

Another idea is to incorporate photography into these cameras. “It would be awesome if you could click a button in your seat to snap photos from the bottom of the plane or wing of the plane to a storage cloud for later retrieval,” responded Michael K.

Other requested in-flight tech dealt with common issues related to baggage storage and deplaning. One reader wants airlines and aircraft manufacturers to continue to improve the overhead bins. This reader requested that airlines add a mechanism that forces passengers to stow their luggage in overhead bins in a way that maximizes storage.

The return of The Golden Age of air travel

Though a number of passengers responded to the survey hoping to see airlines and aircraft manufacturers continue to innovate, some preferred to replicate rather than innovate.

Some TPG readers long for replication, not innovation.(Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)
Some TPG readers long for replication, not innovation. (Photo by GraphicaArtis/Getty Images)

A few readers want the “golden age of travel” to make a comeback. Christopher M. wants to see better-dressed passengers on future flights. Other readers also responded saying that they hope airlines reverse the trend of reducing legroom and seat width, instead reintroducing comfort in coach. Larry S. requested that airlines reintroduce “an economy seat that’s actually a little comfortable.”

We can dream, right?

Featured image by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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