Would you travel on a glass-bottomed plane?

We’ve known about glass-bottomed boats for a long time, but what about glass-bottomed planes? In April of this year Richard Branson announced on the Virgin Atlantic blog that he was going to be adding a new Airbus A320 to its fleet with a clear strip down the middle made from aviation-standard glass, instead of the traditional aisle.

Glass-bottomed plane

The new plane was to assist with a new route from Stansted to Aberdeen. Of course, the timing of the announcement was crucial (check the month and think about it) but that doesn’t seem to have stopped the story from enjoying an occasional flurry on social media. At the time, the Daily Mail reported on the story and so did Chinese state media, and it’s thought they were both ‘taken in’ on it all. Nowadays it still enjoys the occasional share on Facebook or re-tweet on Twitter.

Glass-bottomed plane

So will glass-bottomed planes on commercial aircraft ever become a reality? Well, that seems highly unlikely. Many people are nervous of flying at the best of times and it’s unlikely a glass floor will put them any more at ease. What’s more, there’s technology in place nowadays that would produce a similar end result much more cost effectively. On take-off on a recent flight back from Crete, our TV screens were replaced with footage from a camera filming the ground from the underside of the plane.

Glass-bottomed plane

Plus then you’ve got things such as the app launched by Delta earlier this year. The ‘Fly Delta for iPad’ app comes complete with Glass Bottom Jet™ which they say is to “inspire you to explore the globe and experience a whole new view of the ground below”.

So, if you do truly want to experience something akin to a glass-floored flight, your best bet is going to be to save up for your own private jet and customise it as you wish. Whilst that might sound far-fetched, it’s exactly what Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia is said to have done with his customised Airbus A380. He has a ‘magic carpet’ room on the lower floor where there is the equivalent of a glass-bottom board – a floor that is in fact made from a giant screen that shows you where the plane is flying over at any point in time. Snag is, you’re going to need to about $500 million in spare cash if you want a jet like his.

Comments (9)

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  1. Dave M says:

    It’s more “highly unlikely” than you think given that this was in fact posted on April 1. Yes, April 1. Get it now?

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m guessing you didn’t read the article in full if you think I overlooked that.

  3. Kevin Maw says:

    Some very happy passengers until they see an empty baggage carousel at the ‘other end’. Where would the luggage go? Great April Fool we guess too.

  4. Dawn Patrol says:

    Additional money saving tips for the airlines

    Abolish all carry on luggage, instead sell a new class of ticket called “Elevated Sleeping Compartments.”

    Replace courtesy shuttles with bikes and skateboards

    Replace expensive hydraulic jet bridges with cost effective rope bridges

    Instead of giving out tiny bags of pretzels, buy one of those huge bags of pretzels from the discount store and pass it back.

    Passengers who bring their own on board meals are charged a new “setup & napkin fee”.

    Replace satellite TV and in-flight movies with flight crews’ home movies.

    And Finally
    Parachute passengers into airports, thereby avoiding costly landing fees.

    LOL!

  5. If it were true, I’d like to look down, because I like to look out the window. But with the video camera it is much easier to implement.

  6. It would solve the endless mystery of what exactly does happen when you flush the toilet on a plane…..

  7. crischo says:

    I like the concept of a glass bottom. The windows of planes are to small for a good view.

    But I am afraid that such a bottom window would have the same poor optical quality like regular plane windows.

    Screen and camera might be the better solution.

  8. I’m not sure about a glass bottomed plane, but i’ve been on the worlds highest and longest glass bottom cable car in Whistler, Canada. For someone with vertigo it was pretty scary, but i’d do it again!

  9. Alexander says:

    To give you a straight answer to your question in the title: No!
    I have spent 1,000,000 miles on board of jet planes – but I have not once had that thought.

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