Could Vending Machines Be Coming to Airplanes?

Courtesy Teague

While air travel is great for getting you to exotic destinations relatively quick, it comes with a lot of woes.

Certain short hauls (and sometimes long hauls) don’t have any meal options, it can be difficult to flag down a flight attendant to get an extra pillow, and any “communal space” is reserved for flight attendants. But, one Seattle-based creative design agency, Teague, has a solution to relieve these common problems.

Bernadette Berger, the associate creative director of the agency, looked at one space in particular to make a change: the cramped galley. “It’s not only the kitchen, but it’s also the office, welcoming entryway, it’s the sleeping quarters, the branding space, the workspace... all of that, all at once, in one tiny place,” she told CNN Travel. “It’s a huge point of tension for passengers and their experience and with the crew trying to provide service as fast as possible.”

Courtesy Teague

But, what if this contentious area could become the exact spot for passengers to find enjoyment in their flight? That’s why she created a design inspired by Amazon package pickup lockers and Japanese vending machines that would place onboard vending machines that would dispense everything from food to headphones to games for children. The compartments containing the items would be available for purchase via a phone app, and the passenger would simply scan a QR to retrieve the desired object.

For food, in particular, it would be stored and warmed via a robotic system saving flight attendants from dealing with hot foods in sometimes treacherous conditions. Berger further explains her concept by saying, “the condensed packaging of ready-made food can be sorted and stored all in the lower lobe. Once a meal is ordered by a passenger, robotic arms can locate and transport the meal to the prep area for warming. The robotic arms will then transport the warmed meal to the elevator and the waiting flight attendant.”

Courtesy Teague

And before you get worried about flight attendants losing their jobs, Berger believes this idea simply frees them up to complete more meaningful tasks. It also allows passengers to dictate their onboard itinerary. Just how seatback displays gave passengers the capabilities to decide how they will be entertained, these lockers would now let them dictate when and what they eat and options to get comfortable.