INTERIORS: Luggage concept gets out of hand

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A conceptual automated system to enable passengers to deposit their hand luggage inside the skin of an aircraft when they board received mixed reviews during a lively panel discussion hosted yesterday by German aerospace industry body BDLI (stand 7C19).

On entering the aircraft, passengers place their hand luggage on a shelf inside the interior wall, where it is whisked away and stored out of sight until they need it. However, the fact that passengers frequently need to access items from their hand luggage during a flight appears to have been overlooked.

“I’m not sure humans are ready to get rid of their stuff and not see it again. Slotting it away into the skin of a plane could be a little bit traumatic for them,” says Etihad Airways vice-president guest experience Fiona Morrison. “There’s a reason why it’s hand luggage – you want to have it at hand.”

British Airways creative director Richard Stevens agrees: “Customers don’t want to be separated from their immediate hand baggage,” he says, adding that “customer anxiety” is a key point to bear in mind.

The concept is one of a number of innovations being floated by BDLI. The association is also looking at "disruptive architecture", which could include building aircraft with flexible-pitch seats, as well as a mixture of wider seats offering extra space for larger passengers.

Stevens praises BDLI for “provoking ideas”, but urges original equipment manufacturers to work together when putting them into practice. “We have an incredibly mixed fleet. These concepts are great but only if the two OEMs are talking to each other to deliver a consistent customer experience,” he says.