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Internet on board a plane: The evolution of air travel and what's next

Air travel has come a long way. Initially there was only one class and it was pretty luxurious. The future may see planes flying on solar energy.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 13, 2018, 10.46 AM IST
Nasa is bringing back the era of X-planes - a series of experimental aircraft first tested by the space agency in the 1940s. Among its plans is the "double bubble" D8.
Flying - already considered the safest form of travelling, next only to an elevator ride - in India is getting a connectivity boost. Plane passengers will soon be able to enjoy the advantages of internet and be able to make calls over your cell phone. ET Magazine checks out some of the interesting features in the evolution of air travel, and what more can be expected:

The Golden Age
* The 1950s and '60s are known as the Golden Age of Flying. It was a time of glamorous air hostesses , gourmet meals and more leg room

* Forget about choosing between economy, business or first class. Initially there was only one class and it was pretty luxurious. Seats reclined to almost horizontal levels so that fliers had a bed for the night

* Cabin crew served food on china plates and even gave metal knives and forks. No security threats to spoil your appetite

* There would even be a chef in formal garb, down to the toques, preparing platters for the passengers

* Guests were offered a wide variety of beverages, including beer, wine and champagne. There was even an in-flight sommelier to make sure you chose the best wine

* A typical flight meal in the 1970s would feature prawns and smoked salmon. Tea was served in porcelain cups

* There was smoke from all those cigars, cigarettes and pipes

Fly in Style

Double Bubble
Nasa is bringing back the era of X-planes - a series of experimental aircraft first tested by the space agency in the 1940s. Among its plans is the "double bubble" D8. Though it would probably move slower than a commercial jet, it could cut emissions by about 70%

Sky Whale
Conceptualised by Spanish designer Oscar Viñals, this plane is equipped with self-repairing wings, large windows, has vertical take-off ability, double fuselage and room for 755 passengers. The AWWA Sky Whale is an outlandish proposal for future aircraft

Self-Cleaning & Massage
Recaro Aircraft Seating GmbH is developing a seat infused with a disinfectant that destroys within seconds almost every germ it comes in contact with. Apart from being sanitised, the seats can give massages and predict backaches. These may debut within a year or two

Solar Impulse
This aircraft successfully completed the first round-the-world solar powered flight in July 2016. Financed by Swiss nationals André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, the fixed-wing aircraft put the spotlight firmly on using clean technologies in aviation

Molon Labe's pitch for reconfiguring cabins includes an aisle seat that slides over the middle seat to widen the corridor during boarding. It also boasts middle seats positioned farther back and slightly lower than the neighbouring ones, creating less scope for armrest battles

High Fly
Be it privacy doors or lie-flat seats, these luxury airline cabins make flying a luxury experience:

* Singapore Airline's first class was designed as a cocooned haven with exclusive sensory experiences - from the luxurious texture of a diamond-quilted leather armchair to the soft, warm glow of cove lighting and food by Michelin-starred chefs

* Air France's La Première cabin has a boudoir-esque suite, which can be closed off by sound-absorbing curtains, clad in leather and suede. The tweed-covered seats transform into memory-foam cushion beds

* Emirates' first-class suites offer the luxury of a five-star hotel, with a leather-seat-turned-bed in each private room. The airline's onboard shower spa is equipped with luxe Bvlgari products

* Lufthansa's caramel and grey-brown compartments are covered with noise-neutralising insulation. Humidifiers make it extra comfortable. In the middle of the cabin is a bar station, with an array of free-flowing wines and artisanal chocolates

* Qatar Airways revealed a business berth that can be swivelled to form a meeting area for four or to make a double bed

Crystal Cabin Award
It is the only international award for innovative aircraft cabin products and concepts. Winners are evaluated on the basis of greener cabins, health, safety & environment, electronic systems, premium class offerings, passenger comfort systems, material & components

Aircraft Interiors Expo
AIX is an annual trade fair for aircraft cabin equipment in Hamburg. It presents information on priority issues in the industry, such as the use of weight-reducing materials, optimum space utilisation and modernisation concepts

Source:,, media reports
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