Imagine yourself cruising at an altitude of 35,000 feet, gazing out the window beside you at the view that such a height affords: a vast sea of clouds, a blazing sunset, the distant topography of the Earth, or perhaps even the Aurora Borealis. Now imagine looking out that window and knowing that the vista before you isn’t exactly real; it’s a simulation, not unlike…well, something straight out of The Truman Show.
Earlier this year, Emirates airlines announced that it would be using advances in virtual technology to develop windowless planes. Company president Sir Tim Clark, in an interview with the BBC, stated that its fake “windows” — that is, high resolution screens — would project images that are “so good, it’s better than with the natural eye.” Planes without windows, he explained, would ensure that the aircraft is lighter, faster, and more fuel efficient.
While this concept may sound like something from the far-distant future, Emirates has already unveiled a pilot version (no pun intended!) of sorts; according to the Huffington Post, the airline has introduced its first windowless cabins aboard the Boeing 777-300ER in its exclusive First Class Private Suites. In order to ensure that all first class customers are provided with a view worthy of that steep ticket price, Emirates has implemented these virtual windows for seats located in the middle aisle. Using real time camera technology, passengers are able to gaze at a projection of the external environment.
Emirates didn’t just stop at the cutting edge technology, however, when it came to ensuring that its suites offer the utmost in luxury. The cabins of its Boeing 777 fleet were inspired by Mercedes-Benz; its floor-to-ceiling sliding doors and streamlined design features pay homage to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Each cabin features up to 40 square feet of private space in which this luxurious collaboration is apparent; soft leather seating, high-tech control panels, and mood lighting seek to emulate the sensation that a driver might feel behind the wheel of one of the carmaker’s sleek vehicles. According to the airline, that collaboration is also extended to ground services; passengers are provided with access to a fleet of S-Class cars as part of Emirates’ complimentary chauffeur-drive service.
Other collaborations responsible for these decadent cabins are Rockwell Collins Interior Systems, Panasonic, Jacques Pierre Jean Design studio, and Seattle-based design firm Teague. The interior design of these cabins is light and bright, each kitted out with pale hues that call to mind expensive champagnes and rich creams. Passengers seated in these suites have access to a video call function, making it easy and personable to request room service from the cabin crew. A service window makes this room service convenient while maintaining an air of privacy. There’s an also an artistic flair present in the interior design; says the airline, “An artistic motif representing the Ghaf (prosopis cineraria) tree is used as a design highlight throughout the aircraft. An indigenous evergreen plant, the Ghaf is considered the national tree of the United Arab Emirates, and has deep cultural and ecological significance.”
Other offerings in these suites include a 32-inch full HD LCD television screen, noise cancelling headphones from Bowers & Wilkins, and an inspiration kit, featuring a collection of Byredo skincare products (exclusive to Emirates), Hydra Active moisturizing pyjamas (perfect for combatting the dryness that so often comes with air travel), and Bulgari amenity kits.
Perhaps best of all, however, is the “zero-gravity” position on the soft leather recliner; inspired by NASA technology, this setting is meant for pure relaxation. Passengers can settle in for a feeling of weightlessness while soaring en route to the next great destination.