If start-up company Zephyr Aerospace has its way though, double-decker seats could become a staple for economy travel, especially in a post-COVID-19 world, where airline companies will need to adhere with social distancing guidelines.
Zephyr Aerospace hopes to make the economy seating more comfortable and spacious for passengers while giving them plenty of room and privacy at the same time.
The San Francisco-based company has designed the Zephyr Seat, which describes as ‘a lie-flat seat designed for everyone’. Zephyr Seat allows passengers to choose how they fly – lying completely flat, lounging, or sitting upright with their legs fully extended.
In addition, the seat uses a ‘stacked’ seating configuration, Zephyr Aerospace managed to create a double-decker-style seating plan that essentially fits the second row of seats where a plane would usually have space for overhead baggage storage.
“Our design increases capacity by 20%+ on long-haul aircraft and reduces costs by “unbundling” expensive meals, baggage, and other premium amenities, offering the lowest price in the industry for a lie-flat bed,” the company said in its pitch.
The seats can be laid out in already-existing airline cabins, with aisle access across a 2-4-2 combination. Passengers would be able to sit above and below each other in a bunk-bed style, using a ladder to access the upper level.
Zephyr Aerospace CEO Jeffrey O’Neill came up with the idea after struggling to get comfortable on a 19-hour flight from New York to Singapore. “I’m on probably the best-rated airline in the world, and I’m getting wonderful service and the food is edible, but I can’t sleep,” O’Neill said in a CNN report.
Two years ago, O’Neill already experienced a bus ride in Argentina that utilized bunk beds to give passengers room to sleep, he wondered why a similar design couldn’t be used on planes as well.
The Zephyr Aerospace CEO says his idea has since grown from a drawing on the back of a napkin to a life-size mock-up, which he says proves its feasibility.
O’Neill said he already talked to four different airline companies about their interest in the seating plan, so this prototype could be a reality sooner than we all expected.