4 Gimmicks That Will Soon Make Flying More of a Living Hell
Now that it's the holidays, there's a 99 percent chance that 100 percent of the Earth's population is on planes traveling to grandma's house at this moment, give or take a few percentage points for error. We all do it, and we all hate it. Whether it's the endless delays, the constant battles for legroom, or the airline food and, specifically, what the hell its deal is, the simple fact is that people rank flying through the air on par with standing in line at the DMV, an activity that itself is only marginally more pleasant than having rusty razor wire inserted into your urethra.
Luckily, there are people who are working tirelessly to make air travel slightly more bearable. Unluckily, despite their good intentions, many of these efforts are distressingly misguided.
Restaurant-Style Tables Force You to Look at Other Travelers
Thomson Airways, the third-largest airline in Britain, apparently feels that what's really missing from air travel is the atmosphere of a Waffle House, if a Waffle House could plummet to the Earth and kill everyone in a fiery display of carnage and death. Which is why they're proposing family-style tables for families who just aren't getting enough family time on the ground.
"Can I sit in the window seat, dad?"
"I didn't buy you a tablet because I wanted to hear you talk, son."
While this setup sounds suspiciously similar to what some people would consider Hell, Thomson maintains that the restaurant-like atmosphere will be ideal for families, because parents will be able to sit across from their children, allowing them to pull ears and waggle fingers directly, instead of reaching over the poor woman who's on her fourth connection of the day who just wants to read her Clive Cussler novel in peace. This restaurant arrangement has some basis in practice because, as we all know, children never misbehave in restaurants.
"I swear this is totally not the face of someone that just flushed our passports
when he went to the bathroom. Promise."
As for travelers who don't have children, it will likely mean a lot of awkward eye-contact and forced small-talk, increased ticket prices since they won't be able to fit as many people in the cabin, and for the unlucky bastards who get stuck facing backwards, extra motion sickness, since everything will be moving in the opposite direction that your brain is expecting. Whether or not the standby list will be replaced with those little vibrating alarms, however, remains unclear.
Airbus Wants You to Travel With a Head Dome
As much as we bitch about air travel, many of the people involved really are trying to make it as comfortable as possible. Take aircraft designer Airbus, for instance, which realizes that, far from wanting to share a dinner table with strangers, most passengers would prefer to remain in their own private bubble. A noble goal, but tragically Airbus doesn't understand that "bubble" is meant figuratively, a misread that led them to create an actual bubble for each passenger.
"Yes, we get it: they're round. Now could everyone please stop quoting Spaceballs."
The little plastic dome slips right over your head like you're an octogenarian at the hair salon, but instead of frying your scalp, it contains headphones, a little heads-up display screen, and, in what may be the most ominous description of all, a "means for diffusing at least an odorous substance." So, it's a fart filtration system.
Just please don't take that as a challenge.
Even so, two out of three ain't bad, and being able to watch a movie without trying to peer around the person's head in front of you might just be worth looking like a 1950s diver. Of course, the claustrophobia and inevitable concussions you'll suffer in even the mildest turbulence are probably not worth it, but we're confident they'll have it figured out before it's released to the public.
Social Media for Sweaty Airplane Encounters
With social media creeping into every facet of life like Martian red weed, it was only a matter of time before technology gave airline passengers the means to stalk one another. Enter Quicket, an app that pulls together a nice little dossier of you based on your Facebook profile and shares it with anyone who meets the rigorous criteria of being on the same plane as you.
Quicket is qui ... fast to point out that it's an opt-in feature and will include only users who deliberately choose to participate when the app asks if they're sure that they don't not not want to enable the social feature.
"Just unclick to redisenable."
Ostensibly, travelers can use this information to help with conversation-starters, but the more obvious use is to estimate the girth and attractiveness of your seatmate and make seat changes accordingly at check-in. The upshot of all this airborne Tinder creepiness is that if you plaster your Facebook with your collection of Mr. Bean erotica, you might find yourself in a suddenly empty row, with all the armrest you could ever want.
A Goddamn Windowless Plane
Even though taking the window seat means you'll have to army-crawl across several people's laps to get to the bathroom, it can be worth it for the opportunity to view the majesty of Mother Nature from a normally inaccessible vantage point.
"Do these open? We're over a flock of birds and I want the chance to poop on them for a change."
A company in Britain, that bastion of air-travel innovations that nobody asked for, says fuck that: they want to remove windows entirely and replace them with curved LED panels. On these screens, passengers can see a full-length feed of the outside sky, identify landmarks by tapping on them, and surf the Internet on screens embedded into the seatbacks. Absolutely no chance for brain-bending panic attacks here!
Naturally, this brilliant piece of technology will only last for exactly as many flights as it takes for someone to hack the screens and replace them with your Mr. Bean erotica, but even so, there's something special about being able to witness every moment of your own near-supersonic death coming toward you in crystal-clear 1080p.
While we're on the topic, check out 5 Myths About Flying Everybody Believes Thanks to Movies.