One way to establish a setting as occurring in the future is to show everyone — or at least a nontrivial portion of the population — flying about. Whether it is by personal jetpacks, mass transit aircars, or simply letting everyone flit around like birds, the power of flight will be as effortless and casual as walking on the grass. People flying for the shortest and most frivolous reasons will be commonplace, and may even qualify as idle recreation for some.
Might be justified if the characters are in a low- or zero-gravity environment without Artificial Gravity.
Also see I Believe I Can Fly.
- Australian company Optus Enterprise has a TV commercial "This is Enterprise Reimagined", showing a future where business people fly around inside and outside an office building.
- As originally presented, the Legion of Super-Heroes gave everyone in the 30th century flight rings to allow effortless flight.
- Not quite flying, but all the crew aboard the Axiom in Pixar's WALLE lives their lives in hoverchairs, which were originally intended for the elderly and infirm. Any humans who need something done for them must summon a robot to do it for them, including exercise.
- In Meet the Robinsons, floating bubbles are used as public transportation.
- Once The Last Mimzy has returned to the future with a sample of Emma Wilder's DNA, humanity is brought back from the brink of extinction, and the future looks bright as children assemble on a grassy knoll for their school lessons, which last about three minutes. Everyone then floats away like dandelion seeds.
- Not a future but in a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, in the Star Wars series, everyone and their mom owns a flying car, motorcycle, speeder, etc.
- The Fifth Element has flying cars for everyone.
- Metropolis has a number of shots of biplanes flying between skyscrapers.
- The Three Most Important People In The World from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure sit in midair, complete with Midair Bobbing.
- In the Time Warp Trio book "2095" personal anti-gravity discs the size of large lapel pins are commonplace, and worth only a few cents (when a slice of pizza is over a hundred dollars).
- There is a short story by Robert Sheckley, where everyone on Earth has learned to levitate efficiently, and then the protagonist gets infected with a Mind Virus that disrupts his levitation and spreads quickly onto others, so The Government comes after him.
- In Damon Knight's novella Dio (or The Dying Man), humans have genetically engineered themselves into gorgeous, model-quality (or better) immortals. Their ability to levitate is a plot point in the first couple of pages, where the title character loses this ability (in midair).
- Common in various ways in the works of Robert A. Heinlein. From two of his "Heinlein juveniles": In Space Cadet there's a passing reference to the protagonist's kid brother flying the family helicopter; in The Star Beast teenagers routinely get around in "flight harnesses".
- In Heinlein's short story "The Menace From Earth", recreational flying on the Moon—in a huge air-filled cavern, using artificial wings—is a common pastime for the Lunar colonists, and for tourists as well, and forms an important part of the plot.
- In Isaac Asimov's short story "For The Birds", a fashion designer is hired to help perfect recreational flight in the low-gravity portion of a space habitat. He eventually realizes that trying to use wings is the wrong approach ; they need a suit with fins and flippers, like a dolphin, in order to "swim" through the air.
- A major part of the setting and premise of the 1979 science fiction novel Vertigo by Bob Shaw involves the ways near-future society have been changed by the invention of a form of anti-gravity that only works for relatively low-mass objects, meaning everyone now flies through the air using anti-gravity backpacks.
- In H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy stories, and the broader "Terrohuman Future History" of which they are a part, the invention of "contragravity" makes this trope universal. Characters routinely fly in aircars, even bulldozers are equipped with contragravity and are thus flying bulldozers, buildings have "landing-stages" on their roofs, and a city on a human-colonized planet is described as being a "streetless contragravity city of a new planet that had never known ground traffic".
- Likewise on the "Home Timeline" of Piper's Paratime stories, aircars (including robot aircabs) are ubiquitous and buildings have "landing-stages" on their roofs. (Technically "Home Timeline" is not actually The Future—it's an alternate universe that happens to include a much more technologically advanced Earth than any of the other near-infinity of alternate Earths, including our own. Presumably any timeline that could manage to not have a nuclear war or otherwise fall into some sort of Dark Age would also wind up with Flying Cars, robots, and Ray Guns.)
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga "groundcars" (implied to be hovercraft) still exist, but aircars, "lightflyers" (fast and sporty aircars), "float-bikes" (flying motorcycles), and "lift vans" are also all in widespread use. One character (after nearly getting in a groundcar accident) asks another character when a major city's "municipal traffic control system" for groundcars is going to be finished, but is told that they're prioritizing the "automated air system" on account of the increase in fatal lightflyer accidents.
- In Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End "the perfection of air transport" in the form of the "ordinary private flyer or aircar" means that everyone in the society of Earth under the rule of the Overlords is "free to go anywhere at a moment's notice".
- A borderline example: On the third season of Heroes, the Bad Future has literally everyone having superpowers after apparently a superpower-granting serum becomes commonplace. Peter only realizes he is in the future by how many people on their normal daily routines started to fly around or teleport, or use superspeed in their business suits, with briefcases.
- In the futuristic setting of Xenon, everyone flies around just because they can.
- Required in Shattered Horizon, which takes place entirely in zero gravity.
- Everyone flies in Tribes, due to ubiquitous nature of jet packs in the series. These are built into every single suit of Powered Armor ever produced, effectively giving every notable character flight capabilities.
- The game Cloudpunk is set in a futuristic city set high above the clouds, where everyone gets around in flying cars.
- Schlock Mercenary: Played with. In addition to Flying Cars, any soldier belonging to an even slightly competent military will wear low-profile Powered Armor that looks like regular clothing but is bulletproof, gives Super Strength, and lets them fly. However, they rarely actually use them to fly, since it's Awesome, but Impractical most of the time.
Legs: Do you know what we call flying soldiers on the battlefield?
Tino: Air support?
- In The Jetsons, the predominant forms of movement are either moving walkways or flying around using aircars or jet packs.
- Most incarnations of Transformers feature numerous flyers. The original idea was that only the Decepticons could fly, but that was quickly dispensed with, and flying characters regularly form a significant number of any faction.
- in Futurama, they do not even know what a wheel is because all cars have been floating, flying, and/or hovering for so long that wheels are too ancient to remember. And if that doesn't fit the bill, they also have tubes that wind through the city of New New York that people hop into and are whisked away in to whatever destination they need to get to in the city. And if that is still not enough to qualify, they also have every other means of insta-flight available to them. Such as rocket boots, antigrav belts, and jet packs. Want to fly in Futurama-verse? Pick your poison.