It's a vision that planners hope will become reality as new technology is rolled out, transforming the exhausting experience of getting stuck in lengthy queues in ageing, overcrowded terminals into something far more pleasant.
The Asia-Pacific has been leading the way but faces fierce competition from the Middle East as major hubs compete to attract the growing number of long-haul travellers who can choose how to route their journey.
The regions "are the two leading pockets of technology growth because they are really competing to be the global hubs for air transportation," Seth Young, director of the Center for Aviation Studies at Ohio State University, told AFP.
"If I'm going to fly from New York to Bangalore, do I transfer through Abu Dhabi or Dubai or do I transfer through Hong Kong? That's a huge, huge market."