San Francisco-based start-up Zephyr Aerospace wants to make economy seating more spacious and comfortable for passengers, while giving them plenty of privacy to boot. The company has designed what they call the Zephyr Seat which is essentially a double-decker seat and bed combination that can be retrofitted into existing commercial airline cabins. What’s more, the design helps airlines comply with social distancing measurements as people travel in a Covid world.
The seats can be laid out in airline cabins with all-aisle access across a 2-4-2 combination. Passengers could sit above and below each other in a sort of bunk-bed style, using a telescopic ladder to gain easy access to the upper level. The multi-functional seat design gives them the option to lie completely flat, lounge at an angle or sit upright with their legs fully extended.
Zephyr Aerospace CEO Jeffrey O’Neill came up with the concept after struggling to get comfortable while sitting in the premium-economy class on a 19-hour flight from New York to Singapore. He compared the experience to another long-haul journey he’d undertaken in Argentina by bus, which utilised bunk beds to give passengers room to stretch and sleep. O’Neill figured that design could work just as well on airplanes, providing economy class customers with similar levels of comfort to business class customers.
“The Zephyr Seat delivers on all the needs of the modern traveler,” O’Neill told Lonely Planet. “I have made it my life’s mission to do all I can to bring this vision to life and permanently change the status quo of air travel.”
It’s similar to a concept being tested by Air New Zealand, known as Economy Skynest. The Skynest contains three rows of beds with two beds on each level, and looks a bunk bed or pod hotel.