There’s a lot of excitement about the way LED lighting can have an effect on the way you travel, especially if you’re on a long haul flight. Up until very recently, airplane cabin lights had two settings, on and off. This is the reason for the startling “lights on” moment during a long haul, overnight flight before attendants serve the in-flight breakfast. According to attendants who work on these flights, the cabin going from relaxed, quiet darkness to fully lit and bustling activity within 3 seconds is very jarring for customers. Often drawing complaints from travellers who were quietly snoozing just moments ago.
Some optional extras on the new Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes are set to change that. The addition of colour changing RGB LED lights to airplane cabins open the air hosting industry to a whole new cabin palette that’s never been available before. Instead of jarring awake a cabin full of snoozing passengers, Finnish designer Vertti Kivi has developed a better system for Finnair.
Kivi says “People have jet leg and designers can start to think both how to behave to prevent jet lag as much as possible.” The Finnair A350 has 24 different light settings featuring warmer ambient colours. Using this for overnight flights an artificial sunset of slowly dimming amber coloured lights helps travellers relax and a slowly brightening light in a cool white light over a 20 minute period helps ease travellers into a more energised state less likely to complain at being rudely woken up.
Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic have developed a colour scheme using five primary colours. Rose Champagne for boarding, purple/pink for drinking, a warm white or amber light for dining and another for the pre-sleep period they call the “work-rest-play” to relax their customers. Virgin have banned green and blue coloured lights, they’re not Virgin Atlantic colours and they don’t help make food or drink look particularly appealing.
Nik Lusardi, design manager at Virgin Atlantic Airways said “We’ve always wanted to create a different kind of atmosphere aboard our aircraft and light plays exactly into our hands, you can get people energized or you can relax people very, very quickly.”
American Airlines has also adopted the technology, experimenting with LED lights in their cabin lighting since 2011. They’ve also ruled green light colour out of the scheme but, like Virgin Atlantic have opted for a warm amber light during dinner service and a deep blue colour for sleeping periods. They originally considered a warm red colour but, as Alice Liu, managing director of on-board products for AA said “Red is sometimes associated with fire” which is never a good thing on an airplane.
With LED lighting schemes on air planes creating a relaxing or energising mood as required it’s easy to see why a lot of airlines are going that extra mile to ensure their customers arrive at their destination rested, energised and ready to get on with their day.