Double-decker airplane seats could make flying coach hell

Delays, canceled flights and being stuck in the middle seat may no longer be people’s biggest air travel concerns.

A new possibility awaits: double-decker-style airplane seats for coach. Just like the bus, one row is above another with the top level reached by stairs.

“Fresh hell just dropped,” tweeted author Amber Sparks in response to a CNN article about the design.

Others on social media also reacted to the seats. Writer Kaz Weida tweeted: “I’ll be back to comment on this once my claustrophobia lets me breathe again.”

The prototype at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, showcases a lack of overhead luggage storage in favor of an area in between the two rows.

This leaves those on the top row with only 4.92 feet of space between the seats and the top of the plane, which means passengers won’t be able to stand up to get out.

Airplane seat design layout.
This seat design eliminates the overhead luggage compartment.
Crystal Cabin Awards

The designer, Alejandro Núñez Vicente, argued that travelers already have to crouch with the way current economy seats are designed.

Those seated on the bottom row do have the ability to stretch out their legs because there aren’t seats directly in front of them; however, the issue with this row is that it could make some travelers feel more claustrophobic than a middle seat does now.

Some Reddit users are horrified with this idea, as one commented, “break both of your knees at the same time when you hit turbulence!”

“It used to be that you would just die, with this you die while being crushed,” another Reddit user wrote. “Another comment mentioned being farted on, so die while being crushed and farted on. Imagine not dying at first, you have to smell it, your last smell. There are worse ways to die, but there are better ways too.”

The designer had a plan to revolutionize what it means to fly coach. Being frustrated with a lack of legroom, the 21-year-old set out to design a new seating model for airplanes. Núñez Vicente has taken a hiatus from the Delft University of Technology in order to pursue this project, which is titled the Chaise Lounge Airport seat and is currently in the prototype phase.

“If you asked me before, I would have said maybe it’s just a university project. If you asked me now, after all the hard [work], after all the effort of many, many people — I would say that now this is more of a reality. We see it as the future of the economy class,” he told CNN.

Seat design layout.
There’s only 4.92 feet of space between the top row of seats and the ceiling of the plane.
Crystal Cabin Awards

In response to those who think the original seating arrangement is better, Núñez Vicente said that he tries to pay extra attention to negative comments because he is so young and wants to improve.

“One of the phrases I get a lot, is ‘If it’s not broken, why change it?’” the designer said. “So if passengers still fly in the worst economy class seats, why are we going to give them a better option? It makes money. That’s the goal of the airline at the end of the day, not to make your flight better.”

Núñez Vicente said he has been receiving investments for the project and is in the process of speaking with both airlines and seat-manufacturing companies.

“My purpose here is to change the economy class seats for the better of humanity, or for all the people that cannot afford to pay for more expensive tickets,” he said.


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