A new concept for airplane seating has sparked a lot of debate among travelers and aviation experts. The idea is to have double-decker seats in the economy cabin, where some passengers would sit directly below or above others.
The designer behind this concept is Alejandro Núñez Vicente, a 23-year-old industrial design graduate from Brunel University London. He says he created the Chaise Longue Airplane Seat to improve comfort and space for economy flyers, especially for long-haul flights.
The seat consists of two levels: a lower one with a reclining chair and a footrest, and an upper one with a flat bed and a privacy screen. The passengers on the upper level would access their seats by climbing a short ladder. The seat would also have storage compartments, personal screens and power outlets.
Núñez Vicente says his concept is not meant to replace regular airplane seats, but to offer an alternative option in the center of the cabin, flanked by two rows of conventional seats. He says he is aware that his design may not appeal to everyone, but he believes it could be more comfortable for some passengers who want more legroom and sleeping space.
Stack ’em up
“People can talk and they always hate innovation in some ways. Most of the time when they show you something new, everyone hates it at first, they’re scared of change.” said Núñez Vicente . “But the more you show it, and the more you develop it, and the more they see it, the more they get used to it.”
He also says his design could benefit airlines by increasing the passenger capacity of the cabin by up to 30%, without compromising safety or comfort. He claims his seat would meet all the regulatory requirements for evacuation, seat pitch and head clearance.
Núñez Vicente first unveiled his prototype last year, after being nominated for the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards, a prestigious prize in the aviation industry. His concept went viral on the internet, generating a lot of reactions from potential customers and critics.
Some people praised his innovation and creativity, while others expressed concerns about the practicality and desirability of his design. Some of the common issues raised were the potential claustrophobia, privacy and hygiene problems of sitting below or above another passenger.
“It’s actually quite comfortable. I can stretch out my legs and there’s a foot rest for added comfort. The privacy screen also helps to block out any noise or light from above.” said CNN reporter, Francesca Street.
Núñez Vicente says he is not deterred by negative feedback, and that he welcomes constructive criticism and suggestions. He says he has been working hard to improve his design and to make it more realistic and attractive. He has also secured sponsors, partnership deals and contacts with some of the biggest players in the industry.
He recently showcased his latest iteration of his concept at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, where he received positive responses from some airlines and suppliers. He says he hopes to see his seat on board an airplane in the near future.