A ban on carry-on luggage. Yearly memberships. Middle seats that feel exclusive. It sounds like the drug-fuelled fever dream of a frequent traveller, but one day it could be reality.
What if there was a startup airline, modelled after the ultra-disruptive success of Uber and Airbnb, that could transform the status quo of flying? Seattle-based design agency Teague hopes Poppi could be that airline. Poppi is just a concept so far, but it’s inspired a lot of chatter about addressing the real needs of today’s passengers.
For starters, Poppi would eliminate both checked baggage fees and cabin luggage. Instead, Poppi’s overhead bins would be thin compartments that only hold personal items, such as computer bags and jackets. All checked luggage would be outfitted with RFID-enabled tags so passengers can easily keep track of their belongings.
Then there’s the bane of every last-minute traveller’s existence: the middle seat. Poppi proposes making the middle seat feel exclusive as a “promotional class” by inviting brands like Uniqlo and Nike to take over the seats. The brands get exposure to customers while the passengers get a special gift box or experience.
Other Poppi propositions include replacing elbow-busting beverage carts with vending machines, an app for reselling tickets or swapping seats, and a “cinema class” for movie buffs that features a huge screen and blacked-out lights for a better viewing experience.
The airline industry is notoriously resistant to change, but with any luck, we’ll see some of Poppi’s ideas come to life in the next 5-10 years. Are you listening, Branson?