In 2024, passengers will soar through the skies with the new airplanes and airlines that are putting their post-lockdown projects into action. Among them are sparkling new airplanes with swift designs speeding towards their destinations.
The buzzing activity around new airports and terminals will transform key areas, although some routes and planes may face delays beyond 2025 due to supply chain challenges.
Let’s start exploring these new airports and terminals before taking a closer look at the transmission and new airplanes seating arrangements.
Abu Dhabi International Airport, home to Etihad Airways, opened its Terminal A at the end of 2023 after significant delays. This expansive upgrade promises a much-improved experience for passengers in 2024, offering Etihad better connections, a more pleasant space for passengers, and the introduction of new lounges.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles at LAX, the largest news lies outside the towering terminals. The completion of the Automated People Mover train system, connecting six stations, took five years. Additionally, new facilities like rental car services, Ride-Hailing Zones, parking lots, and a new Metro Transit Center station will enhance the overall experience. This significant improvement aims to alleviate air traffic issues at the airport when it opens in 2024.
Around the world, expectations are high for improvements in the quality of life at airports. New airplanes bag scanners mean you won’t need to carry liquids or electronics through security lines, and airport apps reduce waiting times and expedite boarding.
Small planes will make a big difference. Airbus A321XLR, part of the A320neo family, boasts the longest range among single-aisle planes, covering approximately 4,700 nautical miles for an “extra-long range” or nearly 10 hours of flight time. Anticipated to start flying at the end of 2024, the A321XLR opens up various routes, creating what’s known as “long and thin” routes—routes where there’s low demand for large new airplanes but a need for frequent flights on smaller planes.
According to aviation experts, the A321XLR could significantly change city connections, bringing additional frequency to existing routes and offering enhanced comfort. In terms of passenger experience, it introduces completely new airplanes seats and a fresh environment.
Onboard the A321XLR, major upgrades will be seen in business class, with spacious new airplanes suites featuring innovations like Stella’s Opera and Safran’s Vue. Expect large entertainment screens, power sockets, and in-flight Wi-Fi options, similar to those found in long-haul flights.
In Australia, Qantas will introduce its first A321XLRs in 2024, enhancing its regional offerings and features by replacing aging Boeing 717s.
Large flags on new airplanes mean new seats and services. As airlines gradually overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic, new airplanes with modern cabins and seats are starting to arrive.
Japan Airlines will launch its first Airbus A350-1000 in January 2024, initially for New York and later in the spring for Dallas-Fort Worth. These A350s feature new airplanes headrest speakers in the first and business class seats, providing a more immersive sound experience. The Safran Euphony system automatically adjusts to cabin noise, ensuring you can hear what’s happening outside your suite.
Simultaneously, Lufthansa is introducing its Allegris generation with new seats in first, business, premium, and economy classes, aiming to refresh the passenger experience. However, production delays may mean a bit of extra wait time for the enhanced experience.
Air India is getting its first A350, which it designed itself. The new airplanes come with fresh paint jobs and a splendid new uniform designed by fashion designer Manish Malhotra. While other airlines, like Air Lain, have already secured a few A350s for the end of 2023, these will be the first with Air India’s designed cabins featuring new seats.
Emirates is also receiving its first A350 in mid-2024, with new airplanes seats yet to be unveiled. The Dubai-based airline plans to replace the seats of its old Boeing 777 airplanes with a new business class product, considering the age of the seats in those planes.
American Airlines has added new seats for both narrow-body and wide-body airplanes. On a larger scale, Airbus will increase deliveries of its “NPS” or “New Production Standard” A350s, featuring slightly updated cabins.
For passengers, this means more space with slimmer sidewalls, a wet galley, food storage, lavatories, and more space for operations in the front and rear sections of the plane. For airlines maintaining the current 3-3-3 seat configuration, it’s good news for passengers: a 4-inch wider cabin means more shoulder room. However, some airlines, including Etihad, are adding a 10th seat in each economy row.
But it’s not all good news for the economy; Air New Zealand plans to introduce its Science Banks on flights to New York and Chicago in 2024. These pods contain essential items for passengers to catch some much-needed sleep during long-haul flights, expected to be priced between $400 and $600 for a four-hour snooze.
In the business of aviation, cabin designer Daniel Byrne, Managing Director of Lift Aero Design in Tokyo, suggests that the post-COVID era has seen a surge in passenger complaints about enduring eternal lines at airport lounges, freebies that were once available, and always staying in complete economy class.
“To practically help reduce pain points,” Byrne predicts, “airlines will invest more in the back of the bus, including more comfortable seats, aesthetics, and freebies. In addition to better seat cushions and brighter colors, these new airplanes features are crucial for airlines to provide substantial, relevant additions that keep people interested in flying.
All these new airplanes mean that airlines can choose to transform their old image or expand to new horizons.
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