The Future of Airplane Seating? Let’s Hope So

May 16, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Imagine this: you pay for economy seating on a long flight. You don’t want to sit in coach, but who does? Then, to your surprise, you get a free upgrade to first class. You don’t have to fight the other passengers for a nearby spot for your carry on. You get to spend the flight in a comfortable seat. And when the person in front of you reclines their seat, you still have plenty of room to relax. This isn’t a dream – this is the potential future of airline seating.

Alireza Yaghoubi, a Malaysian undergrad engineering student from the University of Malaya, designed new airline seating for his entry to the James Dyson Award contest, in which students are challenged to “design something that solves a problem.” Yaghoubi’s new seat designs make the seating in coach a little more spacious and, well, a little less like coach.

The new seats give each passenger a minimum amount of space which can’t be occupied by other passengers, and puts the tray table and personal tv screen that comes with each seat under the passenger’s control. So what’s the catch? One downside is that the seats designed by Yaghoubi are 16% larger than standard economy seating now, which means that airlines will have 16% less space for passengers. But, Yaghoubi points out, airlines can make up the difference in passenger sales by encouraging flyers to buy add ons like video conferencing from your seat, using the plane’s WiFi to play games, work or watch movies, and more.

Another idea for the future of economy airline seating comes from Meerkat Innovative Concepts in Hong Kong. They designed coach seating that integrates technology into the seat design. For example, the tray table can be modified to serve as a universal tablet stand for your iPad or e-reader. These new seats are thinner and incorporate bag storage into the design, so that your bag won’t infiltrate your leg room.

So what do you think about these innovations in economy air travel? If this is the future of coach seating, we can’t help but wonder what the future of business class looks like.

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