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Detachable cabins: How Airbus wants to take the hassle out of boarding a plane

Wait ’til they find out their flight’s been delayed.
By Marta Cooper
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

What if the long and arduous task of boarding a plane were made a little less miserable?

Airbus, which brought us distinctive airplane travel ideas such as stacking passengers on top of each other and placing them in a hexagonal arrangement, is rethinking the boarding process entirely.

In a new patent recently approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the company is proposing detachable cabins that passengers can board while at the gate. In a method not dissimilar from that used for shipping containers, these cabins are then lifted and lowered onto the plane once the passengers have taken their seats—and then detached upon landing, when a new cabin of freshly boarded passengers could be swapped in for the plane’s next flight out.

Coming to a boarding gate near you…

Airbus’s contention in its patent filing is that our current boarding and luggage loading procedures mean planes often are kept parked at the gate for longer than they need to be, which ”increases their operational cost … (and) results in additional fuel consumption.” The shipping container-like method proposed would, Airbus says, offer a “simple, economic and efficient” solution to reducing the downtime—although as Wired notes, integrating this kind of technology into today’s airports won’t be easy.

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