Most airline cabins look similar, featuring rows of tightly packed seats designed to maximize passenger capacity. It’s cost effective, but not imaginative. The Crystal Cabin Awards, on the other hand, dare to dream of an airline cabin inspired by your local Starbucks.
The awards, which are designed to promote innovation in aircraft interior design, include categories for cabin layout and design, health and safety, inflight entertainment and more. The University of Cincinnati won 2021’s University category with the Coffee House Cabin, a passenger seating layout that runs a long table down the center of the cabin. The idea imagines passengers paying more than economy, but less than first class, for a seat ideal for taking meetings, performing remote work and enjoying a cup of coffee.
Airbus also won an award for its cabin design, showcasing a futuristic concept for an AI-powered cabin space that can be customized to each customer’s exact needs. Most of the awards went to ideas that improved cabin electronics or passenger infotainment systems, or which saved water in the plane’s lavatory by using graywater to flush the toilet.
These award-winning ideas are, unfortunately, just concepts for now — but they’re also a glimpse of how the airline experience could change in the near future.