Lonely Planet Writer

Beds, suites and VR: innovative plane features set to make travel better

Sleeping in a full bed and trying out your seat before you ever get on the plane are just some of the new air travel advancements that will make the future of flying much more comfortable. These concepts and more were honoured as winners of the 2018 Crystal Cabin Awards, which celebrate the best advancements for aircraft interiors. Some are even available for travellers to enjoy already.

The QSuite on Qatar Airways. Image by Qatar Airways

Socialize in a suite in the sky

The Qatar Airways QSuite took home the top prize in the Cabin Concepts category. The unique set-up allow for four business class suites to be arranged around a table so passengers can socialize with their travel companions and even has a double bed. The award was given to the industrial design agency PriestmanGoode, along with Qatar Airways and Rockwell Collins.

Paul Smith, Guide Dogs for the Blind and guide dog Pedro tries out a new range of in-flight technology (IFE), developed specifically for visually impaired customers on board Virgin Atlantic services, at Gatwick in West Sussex. Image by Matt Alexander/PA Wire

Accessibility in the air

An on-board entertainment for the visually-impaired took home Crystal Cabin’s first award for inflight entertainment and connectivity. Bluebox Aviation System’s platform snagged the prize, and the product is already in service on Virgin Atlantic flights.

The Valkyrie bed rolls out when you need it.

Rest and recline

The “Valkyrie Bed” offers travellers a chance to push aside their seat to roll out a full mattress so they can get a proper sleep. The design, also from Rockwell Collins, won the award for Passenger Comfort Hardware.

The 3D seat map lets you experience the plane with VR.

Experience your seat long before take-off

Picking a good seat on a flight can be a lot of pressure – particularly if you’re paying extra. But a chance to explore the plane and your seat in advance using virtual technology took home the award for visionary concepts. The Spanish company and their partner Emirates Airline won the award for 3D Seat Map VR software that allows customers to check out a virtual 360-degree view of the cabin from the passenger perspective during the booking process.

Find out more about the award winners here.