With Covid-19 crippling commercial flights, airlines have responded by issuing face masks, gloves and foregoing the use of middle seats. Two designers have come up with new seat configurations that they say will make air travel less frightening in the next few months.
Italy’s Avio Interiors has two ideas for new seats. The first is called the “Janus” seat, which has a rear-facing seat between two forward-facing seats, so there is social distance between the passengers. The second idea is a more conventional layout with plastic shields between the three forward-facing seats.
UK-based Factory Design’s Isolate Kit retrofits to the table of the centre seat, while adding a shield between the two passengers. “A number of airlines have announced they are planning to block out the middle seat to support the social distancing strategies,” Peter Tennent, director of Factory Design told Robb Report. “We felt this was an opportunity to provide the passenger with added functionality and increased confidence to fly again.”
Avio Interiors says its new seating is designed for the wellbeing of passengers. “We want to continue our activities to secure a future by protecting and safeguarding everyone who wants or will have to travel,” the company said in a statement.
Airlines will need to redesign cabins to reassure customers that their health is protected, adds Tennent. “Reduced passenger loads will free-up opportunities to adapt the existing cabins to address this new normal in the short to medium term,” he says.
Tennent thinks the Isolate Kit’s plastic dividers could “still have a life” in business class after Covid-19. “It’s an evolution or an improvement to the center tables that airlines like British Airways have added to their seating,” he says.
A larger question is whether anything can lure travellers back to the commercial airlines in the near future. According to a number of air-charter firms, many clients who previously flew first-class are now opting to fly privately.