The luxury may have finally been put back into the airplane, or at least back into one airplane.
This past Sunday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes unveiled its new 747-8 Intercontinental jumbo jet, and it has gotten a whole bunch of ink already about how it's a redesigned look for modern aircraft.
Just how jumbo is this plane? Well, I'll put it this way -- It's almost a double-decker airplane. There are 467 seats on it, and an upstairs area. The upstairs area includes a business-class dining room, located in the upper hump of the plane.
The hump, by the way, stretches approximately half-way down the length of the plane.
There are full beds, as well as what I like to call cot-style beds (what? They look like summer camp cots to me).
There is a concierge desk in the lower seating area that can double as a social-gathering spot during flights. The lower row of windows extends all the way into the cone of the plane.
What gets me is the sleek, modern design of the plane's interior. From photos I have seen, it looks almost like a slick, new dance club/cocktail bar, rather than the typical airplane many of us are familiar with.
And nearest, and dearest, to my heart is the fact that the plane includes adequate arm rests for everyone. I thought the day would never come (a tear comes to my eye).
"The new 747-8 Intercontinental will set a new standard in economic and environmental performance, while providing a world-class passenger experience," said Pat Shanahan, Boeing's vice president and general manager of airplane programs, in a written statement.
German airline, Lufthansa, as well as Korean Air and a few unidentified, "VIP" Boeing customers have, so far, ordered 33 planes that have this new design. Boeing announced this in a news release issued this past Sunday.
I am hopeful these planes make it into the fleets of the major U.S. carriers, whose ranks these days are practically down to United Airlines (which is gobbling up Continental Airlines as I write this), Delta Air Lines, US Airways and American Airlines.
While the planes currently used in the fleets of U.S. airlines are nice, they really do lack the pizzazz that used to be an integral part of air travel.
Take your prototypical plane, for example. It really does, as one character in the movie "Airplane!" once described a plane, look "like a big Tylenol." The inside can certainly feel a bit, oh, I dunno -- sterilized, like a medical clinic.
I've harped on the somewhat uninspired feel of airplanes a few times in the past. I mean, I'm sure it was nice back in the day, but when every plane virtually looks the same (the one-aisle versus two-aisles issue aside), the design loses its "neatness."
In other words, the airplane was long overdue for a complete redesign, and that has finally happened.
At long last.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.