Fifty years ago, passengers viewed air travel as an integral part of the most luxurious vacations. Dressed to the nines, these frequent flyers enjoyed catered meals, happy hours, and live entertainment. From breakfast in bed to chef-served lobster and caviar, this highly-curated experience became a vacation in itself.
With a pang of nostalgia, we consider the 1960s the golden age of air travel. Yet for the grandiose memories, the so-called golden age was expensive, loud, smoke-filled, and arguably dangerous by today’s regulatory standards. A single ticket could cost a month’s salary. Flight attendants encouraged smoking as a way to pass the time. Interior cabins with sharp edges and glass dividers did not guard against the effects of turbulence. Airplane crashes and fatalities occurred each year.
For many reasons, this era of opulence (and risk) could never be sustained. Airline deregulation led to low-cost competition. Technology replaced human interactions. Meals became bland and portioned. Legroom all but disappeared as airlines worked to maximize profits in the wake of soaring fuel prices.
Air travel grew safer and more accessible, but less comfortable and enjoyable. Today’s ho-hum version of air travel, now considered the safest in the history of commercial aviation, can be downright miserable to endure.
The past 20 years have seen an innovation boom in technology for our cars, phones, and computers, while the aviation industry feels stuck on the runway. A true Golden Age would harmonize the entertainment, service, and luxury of yesteryear, with the safety and affordability that today’s traveler requires.
The development of Overture, Boom’s supersonic airliner and history’s fastest civil aircraft, invites the opportunity to challenge the status quo and ask questions that affect the bottom line. Where can the current interior configuration be improved? Why are the windows tiny portholes? Must the seats be this small? How do we balance the desires of passengers with the economic requirements of airlines?
To find the answers, the team is currently conducting a series of design studies, exploring cabin configurations and seating options that delight passengers and meet the exacting requirements of airlines.
Imagine: At 60,000 feet, the view outside your window reveals the deep blue hues of space, the curvature of the Earth, and the swirl of upper atmosphere clouds. Couple this unreplicable view with business class amenities and meticulous attention to detail, and you’ll discover a passenger experience fit for the 21st century.