The 'Windowless Airplane Cabin' Is An Amazing But Terrible Idea

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A visually stunning glimpse into the future of commercial air travel shows an airplane without windows, in which live video of the outside world would be streamed to seamless OLED displays along the ceiling and cabin walls. But don't be expecting to see this applied on your favorite airline, ever.

It comes down to the fact that airlines can't and won't implement a major cabin change that alienates a sizable percentage of their customer base. The concept is pretty incredible, and I think it's important that technology and design companies continue to innovate, push boundaries, and look for new applications of what's already out there.


But we shouldn't expect to see a feature like this ever installed on a commercial airline.

As I mentioned back in June, when an old concept video from Airbus suddenly went viral, people are too prone to motion sickness. If a bit of moderate turbulence can cause people lose their lunch, imagine the added unpleasant visual sensation as the plane pitches and rolls along between the thunderheads. Okay, maybe they'll be able to deactivate the screens, but then what are you left with? You're in a plane without windows! I don't know how you feel, but I'm a big fan of knowing how close to ground level I am.


The video does include some other practical and enticing benefits of a windowless fuselage. Removing the windows would allow for thinner walls, which could allow wider seats. It would also reduce the plane's weight, burn less fuel and produce less carbon dioxide.


I think this all amounts to a big, enticing tease of what's possible, sort of like we see from automobile manufacturers' concept cars. I think perhaps there is room for this technology application in a niche market — an adventure flight, a la Virgin Galactic. There will certainly be people who would want to experience something like this, myself included. But those who think we'll eventually see this on every flight certainly do have their head in the clouds.