A Better Seat for Economy Class?Jeff Salton
Apart from adding tiny LCD screens to the headrests in airplanes, not much has changed in seating comfort in the airline industry for many years, though a couple of ideas have appeared but are yet to bear fruit. Now, with the advent of A380s and the retention of bulk people carriers like 747s, long haul flight prices might have dropped but they're still tortuous for 'cattle class' fliers subjected to endless hours of boredom and contortionist-like sleeping conditions. But Jacob Innovations has developed the conceptual Flex-Seat, which can be configured in a number of ways to make the most of the vertical space often wasted inside airline cabins and putting the possibility of a good night's sleep (or rest) within reach of most fliers.
As you will see in the accompanying illustrations, Jacob Innovations has deployed the use of double-bunks and a type of mezzanine level to gain the most space and improve comfort levels, as well as an almost zigzag split level economy section. The company says that configurations like this can save airlines time and money serving meals and stowing on-board luggage.
And while the wealthy flier gets even more comfort but uses less space, the budget flier gets much more leg room and a much more enjoyable seating or resting position.
The Flex-Seat conceptThe Flex-Seat is a unique flexible seating configuration that can be utilized differently for each class of flier. While some business class passengers might feel that they are perched precariously in their seats, their Flex-Seat model allows them to lie in comfort and virtual solitude, which offers a much greater chance of restful sleep on long flights than current seating arrangements.
Other benefits over current business class sections include increased privacy (good for traveling professionals), allows for travel with infants, and has extra room for large carry-on luggage and bulky items. Passengers and luggage are stored away from the aisles, allowing better traffic flow while loading and unloading passengers. Also, these seats don't need reclining mechanisms, as the diagram shows.
Jacob Innovations say this Flex-Seat configuration can increase the density of a conventional business class by up to 50 percent, while providing full reclining. With clever configuration and mobility, Flex-Seats can even be sold "on-demand" by airlines.
Economy FlexIn the basic traveler's section, every other seat is raised by a height of approximately two steps, which lets the passenger behind recline and slide their legs fully under the seat ahead, therefore allowing for a totally reclining flight or, even better, sleep. The makers say the economy version would cost around 20 percent more than current prices but the offer of a 45° or better angle allows for a great chance of sleep versus sleep deprivation, meaning workers arrive at their destination ready to go.
Jacob Innovations' claim that airlines will save on food and beverages because most passengers on night flights will choose to sleep, rather than stay awake and consume that delightful airline food, could be a little optimistic though. One definite advantage is that even the upper deck of a 747 can be reconfigured to fit more people in comfort than traditional conventional seating, with longer beds up to 2m in length.
We can't wait to see which, if any, airline is willing to take a leap of faith and fit out their aircraft first.