Lonely Planet Writer

Why one airline wants to create windowless planes

Travellers can often be broken down into those who love the window seat and those who are all about the aisle. But how would you feel about gazing out of a plane through a virtual window?

The new Boeing 777 First Class suite with virtual windows and an inspiration kit. Image by Emirates

Emirates has unveiled a new first class suite on board its Boeing 777, which features ‘virtual windows’, using real-time fibre-optic camera technology to capture what it looks like outside and broadcast it onto a screen inside of the plane. If you’re wondering what the point is, the airline is hoping it could lead to the removal of all windows from planes in the future, which could make them both lighter and faster, reports the BBC.

The Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. Image by Emirates

The airline’s president Tim Clark told the BBC that virtual windows on the existing plane show images that are clearer than what you would see with the naked eye. The move could make planes more structurally sound, but it might be a bit disorienting to those of us who are used to gazing from the window to see the world below. If the idea of a flight without windows has you feeling a bit claustrophobic, an aviation expert, Douglas Drury from the University of South Australia, told ABC that the change wouldn’t necessarily cause safety concerns. While there may need to be windows at certain points to give proper views in the event of an emergency, removing them could make planes stronger as windows have the potential to break.

Emirates new first class suite is currently offering up even more than just virtual windows: there’s a NASA-inspired ‘zero gravity’ seating position and a personal video-call service. If that’s not luxurious enough, the design details were inspired by Mercedes-Benz. The extra perks might make anyone travelling in the suites care less about how they get the view and more about soaking up the luxury.