Are these ‘double-decker’ plane seats the future of flying?

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As the world figures out a ‘new normal’ in the wake of COVID-19, one question on everyone’s mind is how the future of flying will be impacted by the virus.

Speculation around scrapping duty free and imposing mandatory face masks continues to grow, but one thing that’s not so clear is how aeroplane seating will adapt to adhere to social distancing measures.

Designers across the globe have been responding to the challenge with all kinds of ingenious solutions, with one startup company developing a novel concept so people can safely jet off for their summer break without sitting shoulder to shoulder with other passengers.

Zephyr Aerospace has pitched a new type of aeroplane cabin featuring double-decker, lie-flat seats that can accommodate two levels of passengers using the same amount space currently found in a standard plane cabin.

Photographs of the bunk bed-style plans reveal that premium economy travellers could sit above and below each other in rows, accessing the top level by pulling out a niftily concealed staircase.

The prototype uses the empty space between the cabin seats and the overhead bins – and as both tiers of seats recline, it means passengers could also get a more comfortable night’s rest on long-haul journeys.

“We basically retrofitted a whole other seat on top of another,” Zephyr Aerospace CEO Jeffrey O’Neill told CNN Travel. “So, it’s essentially two levels; it’s not as tall off the ground as people might imagine, it’s only four-and-a-half feet off the ground from the entry point to the lower seat to the upper seat.”

Predicting that economy seats as we know them may no longer exist, Zephyr says that although the premium design will make air tickets pricier, it believes travellers will be willing to pay extra for additional comfort.

Although the idea is still in its infancy, it’s reassuring to know that we might soon have a solution to foreign travel – one that could allow us to continue flying to far-flung destinations, although perhaps at a premium price.

Still, flying with more legroom, extra privacy and space to lie back and catch some quality sleep – that’s something we can totally get on board with.

Would you try a double-decker plane seat? If not, how would you improve plane travel?

– With PA

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Total Comments: 7
  1. 0

    This is stale news from months ago!

    Unlikely to get off the ground (pun intended) as I doubt any safety regulator will approve it. Too difficult to evacuate a plane quickly and safely. Also doesn’t solve the carry on problem as there will be no overhead bins.

  2. 0

    Also what about the safety of our elderly passengers with crook knees and needing to go to the loo multiple times on long haul flights. I agree with johninmelb about safety issues too. We need to look outside the box here and stop concentrating on massive planes with ever increasing numbers of bums on seats as being standard.
    But one of the major problems for elderly travellers will surely be are we going to be able to travel overseas because will any travel insurance company allow us to take out insurance for such travel. In Australia we would receive such treatment free and in a few reciprocal countries but elsewhere probably not.
    There needs to be more development of seats in premium economy but with more sensible comfy frills and not massive price hikes. I think most passengers will consider some price rise for safety and comfort and those that are young and fit can put up with the ever less comfortable cattle class offering. Airlines have to take into consideration any profits they make from freight instead of grumbling about what they have lost in passenger traffic amidst only half truths. Ceos rarely have lost their jobs and have enough money to take a bit of a cut anyway .

    • 0

      Not everyone who wants or needs to fly is young and fit to put up with ever more uncomfortable cattle class as you put it. What you are suggesting is an increasingly elitist mode of travel as it was in years gone by. Fine if you can afford it, too bad if you can’t!

    • 0

      KSS, it has always been that way, fine if you can afford it, too bad if you can’t, but it doesn’t only apply to air travel. Fancy cars the same, fine houses (in some cases even a mediocre house) the same, luxury cruises (when they come back) the same. It is not elitist it is just a fact of modern life, some people can afford and some people can’t. It may come as a shock to you KSS, but for some people a seniors meal at a RSL bistro is simply unaffordable. Does that make those that can afford an occasional seniors meal elitist?

    • 0

      Anyway back to the subject, I can see so many problems with this concept to almost make it laughable. It seems like someone’s contribution at a ‘brain storming session’ where any idea, no matter how ridiculous or impractical, can be put on the table. Mind you many ingenious and innovative ideas have emerged from brain storming, and this may be the seed of a practical solution.

    • 0

      Except, Eddy, air travel has been within reach of most people who want to travel for several decades. Of course, there will always be people for whom it will always be out of reach but the average person today (well before COVID-19 that is) could afford a trip to Bali. What senior without family appears to be suggesting is a return to times when flying was out of the question for the vast majority. Quite a different scenario to that which people have become accustomed to in recent years.

  3. 0

    Only if I was sure of getting the lower berth. I have the same reservation on train and ship travel.



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