02 airplane lockers
CNN  — 

Forget New York or Dubai. Some of the world’s most expensive and crowded real estate is inside a commercial aircraft.

The claustrophobia of being on a plane can be hard to manage when there are so many pain points along the way: You’re hungry but there’s no meal service on this flight. You’re cold but can’t flag down a flight attendant to bring you a blanket. You need to use the bathroom but there’s a long line.

Bernadette Berger, associate creative director at the Seattle-based agency Teague, had an idea to solve some of those problems – by transforming a traditionally overlooked part of the cabin.

“Galleys are one of the most constrained and complex places for us to design,” she tells CNN Travel.

“It’s not only the kitchen, it’s the office, welcoming entryway, it’s the sleeping quarters, the branding space, the work space… all of that, all at once, in one tiny place.

“It’s a huge point of tension for passengers and their experience and with the crew trying to provide service as fast as possible.”

What if the Benefit kiosk could be brought from the airport to the plane?

Inspired by Amazon package pickup lockers and Japanese vending machines, Berger began to envision a redesigned galley where on-board lockers could hold everything from earbuds to meals.

Bots on a plane

The first objective was separating the area where food is stored and the area where food is warmed and readied to serve. This can be treacherous for flight attendants, some of whom have been burned by hot packaging or fallen over while trying to reach something stored high in the galley.

Splitting up the process also frees up valuable galley space.

As Berger explains in her brief, “The storing and warming of food will be automated with robotic systems. 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.”

Richard Quest on board world's longest flight
World's longest flight takes off
00:56 - Source: CNN

But what if you want a snack? Or need to replace your broken headphones? Lockers full of items for purchase will already be on board, and customers can order and pay via an app on their phones.

From there, travelers will get a QR code that they can scan to open the locker and pull out the item inside.