Spending endless hours on an aeroplane can be boring, but flight companies are constantly looking for new ways to make the experience more pleasurable.
Many airlines currently offer Wi-Fi, video games and a variety of in-flight entertainment options designed to make the time pass quickly.
Sitting for hours on long-haul flights can be tough on your body, so the opportunity to squeeze in a workout at an in-flight gym may appeal to frequent flyers.
Leading aeronautics manufacturer Airbus has created a project called Transpose – a prototype ‘flying gym’ module – at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
The gym comes complete with stationary bikes, yoga mats, resistance stations and other workout equipment, all designed to help people keep on top of their fitness regime while they’re up in the air.
Transpose can also be used for spas, napping pods or even yoga studios, giving airlines new ways to boost revenue and engage with passengers beyond standard in-flight entertainment methods.
The innovation is an interesting development, with aeroplanes generally providing a fairly restricted capacity to keep themselves on the move.
Walking up and down the aisle is usually the limit to what can be achieved fitness-wise when flying, although even this can be difficult with flight attendants and other passengers often in the same space.
Some airlines encourage in-seat exercises through features in the in-flight magazines or on seat-back cards, while Lufthansa went a step further and recruited sports stars to demonstrate the moves in short videos.
Airbus isn’t the first company to suggest using cabin space for health-related activities.
Scandinavian Airlines promoted basic stretching and exercise moves on some of its aircraft as far back as 2002, attaching a metal bar high on a wall in an unused space near the galley.
Seattle-based Teague and Russian aviation company Sukhoi have also designed concepts for fitting aeroplanes with facilities designed to enhance the health and wellbeing of elite athletes.
These included extra-long lie-flat seats, a nutrition zone, biometric monitoring and analysing systems, and a recovery room with massage table.
The idea of in-flight gyms is a concept worth exploring further, although there are numerous issues for airlines to consider before they become a reality.
The current business model of air travel doesn’t really allow for large areas of cabin space to be used in such ways, with airlines always eager to maximise their profits by filling as many seats as possible with travellers.
Converting luggage areas could be an option, although this may meet with resistance from passengers.
In-flight gyms are certainly an interesting proposition, but their introduction is likely to be limited to luxury long-haul travel rather than being rolled out across the airline industry.