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It’s always fun to see new designs and innovative concepts in the world of aviation. This new concept is surely going to pique the interest of many frequent fliers. Not too long ago, we were looking a airlines looking to only squeeze in as many seats into an airplane as possible. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has definitely altered the way we fly. Social distancing is the new normal and masks are mandatory on most flights, at least for now. However, a new design concept is geared at providing you with a lie flat seat in economy. But what’s going on here? Is there enough demand for people to buy lie flat seats in economy? Also, what would the pricing look like? Let’s have a look.

Lie Flat Seats in Economy Class

Travel and Leisure Magazine reports that designer Jeffrey O’Neil’s design could possibly help passengers enjoy lie flat seats even in economy class. The seats would be arranged in double decker format with a 2-4-2 configuration.

The seats, Intelligent Aerospace reported, are made with limited movable fixtures and crafted with the “highest standard lightweight composite materials, reducing direct maintenance costs for airlines.” The upper seats will come with a telescopic ladder so guests can climb in with ease. Each seat will also feature a drop-down footwell to allow for more personal space and multiple sleeping positions, which is great news for anyone who likes to toss and turn. The configuration may even be large enough for parents and small children to lie down together.

O’Neill says that he first  got the idea about designing something like this when he flew economy class on Singapore Airlines 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,” he said. “This is really uncomfortable. Why is it so difficult to find an affordable way to lie flat on a flight that’s 19 hours?”

The Pundit’s Mantra

O’Neill’s concept has already found itself at various design and airplane interior expos. However, he opines that with social distancing being the new norm, he’s seeing a renewed interest in the concept.

It will be interesting to see if any airline actually picks up the gauntlet and implements the design concept. While the concept may be great in theory, it may not be for everyone. Firstly, the design could well restrict access to certain people who may not be able to climb or move as freely in the cabin. Secondly, how easy or cumbersome will it be for cabin crew to serve customers seated on the upper berths? Finally, if implemented, how viable or competitive will the pricing for these seats be?

At the moment, I don’t see the concept being implemented soon, given the current financial strain many airlines are facing. Many airlines have already expanded to include Premium Economy as a cabin on many of their planes. From a pricing perspective, I doubt whether any airline would simply look to invest in a product that doesn’t really fit into any of the major customer segments or muddies the waters in terms of differentiation.

What do you think about the design concept? Do you think it’s implementation would be as simple and viable? Tell us in the comments section.


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