In its early days, air travel was glamorous. Decades of progress since then have made it safer and cheaper--but also grimmer and far more frustrating. These days the flight experience generally means hunching in a narrow seat, nibbling on a bag of pretzels, and straining to glimpse the sky through a tiny porthole.
What technology has taken away, another round of advancements could restore. By 2052, 40 years from now, a new generation of aircraft could immerse passengers in panoramic views of the clouds. In their imagining of future flight, designers have envisioned fitness centers, theaters, even swimming pools aboard planes. Airbus suggests that by 2050, the biggest planes might resemble cruise ships, with swimming pools, virtual golf, and casinos. For working passengers, the plane will incorporate video and data links to the outside world.