New airplane seats for the coronavirus era?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The coronavirus outbreak has already led to sweeping changes across the airline industry. Could airplane cabins be next?
One aircraft seat manufacturer rolled out new designs this week for economy seating that it believes could help carriers adjust to flying in the age of coronavirus.
Among these designs is the “Janus” seat, the most radical of the two unveiled by Italian firm Aviointeriors. The concept features forward-facing window and aisle seats with rear-facing middle seats. The middle seats are flanked by a wraparound clear shield that separates them from their two neighboring seats.
Aviointeriors says the layout helps “ensure the maximum isolation between passengers seated next to each other.”
“Each passenger has its own space isolated from others, even from people who walk through the aisle,” the company says, adding that the “high shield … prevents the breath propagation to occupants of adjacent seats.”
The concept name was inspired by the Roman god Janus, typically shown with two faces – one facing forward and the other backward.
Aviointeriors also unveiled a simpler design called “Glassafe,” which is a more typical three-abreast coach-class layout that features a transparent shield separating the upper torsos and heads of the passengers.
Similar to the Janus layout, Aviointeriors says the goal is to “minimize contacts and interactions via air” of the passengers.
The seat designs may or may not ever see the light of day. Aircraft seat manufacturers are constantly rolling out new designs, some practical and others more outlandish concept pieces unlikely to be seriously considered by airlines.
On the outlandish side, for example, Aviointeriors is perhaps best known for its “ultra high-density” SkyRider-style seat that it has proposed in several versions in recent years. That seat received lots of media attention but little traction as a serious option for airlines.
Still, the fact that Aviointeriors would roll out new concepts meant to adjust to coronavirus concerns underscores the severity of the problems the pandemic has created for the airline industry.
It’s unclear whether any airlines might currently be looking for such solutions, but carriers will likely face a dilemma about how to handle social distancing concerns.
For now, a number of airlines – including Alaska, American, Delta, Spirit and United – are blocking middle seats or restricting sales to help space out passengers. Although that might work as a stopgap solution, taking these steps long term would be calamitous in terms of revenue.
Aviointeriors CEO Paolo Drago noted that prospect in an interview with FlightGlobal, saying: “Maybe it would be better to keep the aircraft on the ground in that situation.”
His company’s Janus interior could present a solution, he said. He also touted the design as offering extra privacy, even after coronavirus fears ebb.
But before you see it on your next flight (if ever), hurdles remain to be overcome.
“To reach that point I would need to launch a program, and to do that, airline X, Y or Z would have to show significant interest before I can invest in design or production man-hours on it,” Drago told FlightGlobal.
Stay tuned …
Featured image courtesy of Aviointeriors
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.