New Airline Seat Designs

Will the future of travel be new airline seats spaced out with hygienic barriers, or saddle-style standing seats to cram more passengers on a flight?

Cleaning and social distancing have turned from health necessity to lifestyle trends, and companies are seizing the moment – but not the logic. The latest is conceptual passenger seats for airlines in a post-COVID world. The proposals are different from any economy class offering today.

The Janus (above) wants to introduce quasi-isolation by proposing every middle seat face backwards with shields installed between seats. The Glassafe seat (below) proposes installing a transparent plastic hood around each economy seat to limit germ flow.

Don’t expect either seat to be on a plane. They appeal to current impulses but not long-term needs.

These attention-getting concepts are the norm for their designer, Aviointeriors. It’s the same company that proposed the below “SkyRider” saddle-style standing seats, which garnered global attention but not a single sale. There are doubts if regulators will even permit them on an aircraft.

As a smaller vendor, publicity raises awareness for Aviointeriors’ more ordinary seats: slim padding, little legroom, and no head rest or TV screen.

Airlines like Air Niugini and defunct Transaero use seats from Aviointeriors while Alaska Airlines, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and others select seats from Recaro, which also makes car seats and baby strollers.

The aviation industry jokes that the German manufacturer is so in demand that airlines don’t choose Recaro – Recaro chooses them. Safran is another common supplier.

They skip whimsical concepts for practical developments: lighter but stronger metal alloys, new cushion materials, and better lighting.

Less radical concepts have failed to catch on. Air New Zealand’s “Skycouch” only found one other buyer, China Airlines, which later discontinued it. Delta Air Lines DAL was going to install the “Cozy Suite” on dozens of 767s and 777s, but cancelled the idea. It put the prototype seats up for sale last year.

Even if these new concepts were to be on an aircraft, it surely wouldn’t be before 2022. Aircraft seats have to undergo rigours strength and flammability testing to ensure they can protect passengers in a crash and withstand fire. That testing could raise problems with the seat concepts.
European news
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