This new premium economy seat design hopes to help you sleep better

Dec 6, 2019

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.

Thursday night, a London crowd got a glimpse at what the future of premium economy seating may look like. Universal Movement, a spin off of the London-based creative firm New Territory, unveiled its newest “Interspace” seat concept, and I got to experience the seat first hand.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

The new seat

The most noticeable new element of the Interspace seat is the flip-able wings from both sides of the seat. Luke Miles, founder and chief creative officer of New Territory, said adjustable headrests are redundant, so they shouldn’t be utilized on an aircraft.

“You don’t have these on your furniture at home”, Miles said. Instead, the Interspace seat features padded wings that fold out from behind the seat back.

(Photo courtesy of New Territory)

The wings flip out from either side of the seat and can be deployed by one passenger at a time, or by two passengers seated next to each other. The idea is that a passenger can then rotate their body and rest their back on a large cushioned surface. This extra lateral support should be much more comfortable and make for better sleeping.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

Another nice feature is the ability to fold out the flaps on either side of a pair of seats to create an element of privacy. A premium economy suite, perhaps, where the wings fold out from directly behind the seat.

Photo courtesy of New Territory
(Photo courtesy of New Territory)
Photo courtesy of New Territory
(Photo courtesy of New Territory)

Recline on the seats is standard for what you might expect in a premium economy cabin. Additionally, if ordered by an airline, the company would have the choice to customize the colors and the feel of the seat.

At 5’8″, I’m rarely left wanting to stretch out lengthways to get comfortable — the lack of comfort for me tends to be lateral. I can get my head comfortable when resting against the aircraft fuselage or window, and I find myself contorting to wriggle into a good position.

From my five minutes playing around in the sample seat, it’s impossible to tell whether this seat would allow me to sleep properly, or indeed be comfortable sitting in it for one, five or even 12 hours. That said, it definitely seems like nothing much is lost from traditional premium economy designs, but a lot is gained. The seat immediately felt comfortable, so I would welcome this kind of innovation on board to try out on a long-haul flight.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

Other new seat features

Universal Movement also announced it’ll look into adding additional features to set the seat apart from competition. For example, the inflight entertainment (IFE) system could come with facial recognition that would turn the screen off when you fall asleep, turn to talk to crew or go to the restroom. The company also said that it was exploring new ways of doing meal services. Instead of a built-in meal tray attached to the seat, the option would allow cabin crew to serve passengers a meal on a tray that would clip on to the seat in front. Hence, no tray table built into the seat in front.

The former sounds great, the latter a little more questionable logistically. For example, a passenger wouldn’t have the option to work with their laptop on the tray table in front.

Photo courtesy of New Territory
(Photo courtesy of New Territory)

Universal Movement said that the technology of the seat allows airlines that choose to order the seat to easily retrofit their existing cabins with the features. If an airline wanted, it could choose to entirely retrofit a premium economy with the complete new seat. Or, potentially, it could opt to keep the existing seat in there, while also adding the new IFE elements and added fold-able seat features without the need to discard the entire existing product.

It could also choose to customize the order. For example, if it wanted just the flaps, it could choose that. Whereas if it wanted just the facial recognition IFE system, that would also be an option.

Bottom line

As more and more airlines are turning to premium economy to offer passengers a mid-market product between economy and business class, they’ve been forced with developing how to truly set the product apart. Whether that’s in the form of hard product or soft product offerings, new developments in both fields will likely get a second look from potential customers.

On Thursday’s unveiling, Universal Movement announced that no airlines had yet placed orders for the seat or any of its specific functions, though several airline executives were in attendance to get a glimpse of the new product.

It remains to be seen just how big of a hit — or miss — the Interspace seat concept will be or if it even makes it on board a commercial aircraft.

Featured image courtesy of New Territory

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.