Imagine traveling in a plane which uses the cabin more efficiently, gives passengers more legroom and spaces them physically further apart. Think double-decker cabins where people sleep in bunks above seated passengers. Or two-tier rows of seating, some high and some low.
This is the future of air travel, as judged by the Crystal Cabin Awards, an industry prize for cabin innovation, which this year, unsurprisingly, focused on how to improve confidence in boarding an aircraft and how to redesign airplanes for improved social distancing and hygiene.
Whilst one aspect of new designs focused on keeping planes more sanitary using state-of-the-art cleaning wands and covering surfaces in antimicrobial coatings, the other aspect focused on new ways to use an aircraft’s space.
The Chaise Longue Economy concept was created by Alejandro Nuñez Vicente, a student from Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands. His idea creates more space for people traveling in economy class by using the full height of the airplane with two tiers of seats, one high and one low. There would be more legroom for passengers on the lower levels and the upper level feels more like an SUV.
Alejandro Núñez Vicente, a 21-year-old Spanish student designed the concept after traveling across Europe. Vicente told CNN that he was fed up with a lack of legroom in planes and realised that elevating every other row to make a dual-level cabin would solve the issue. It means getting rid of the overhead lockers but luggage could be stored under seats instead and he believes the idea would work in medium to large aircraft, such as the Airbus 330 or the Boeing 747. Vicente added that “as it gives more space between passengers, and positions them at different heights, it is more suitable for flights in pandemic times.”
The Cloud Capsule Concept designed by Toyota Boshoku also makes more use of an aircraft’s height. It allows for a two-tier traveler system where passengers can relax in individual capsules, large enough to lie down and sleep in, once the plane has reached altitude. These Cloud Capsules are located above the rows of economy seats, and according to Toyota makes “economy class travel safer, more enjoyable and more comfortable, while creating more revenue opportunities for the airlines.”
The idea would be for some economy passengers to buy the Cloud Capsule option above their seat as an add-on when they purchase their tickets. The capsule would allow for more privacy in crowded economy cabins and could also regulate its own heating.
Another entry, the Economy Sky Dream from ADSE reminded judges of inter-rail travel on long-distance trains, providing space for people to sleep in loft bunks, with luggage stored under the seats.
The competition honoring innovation in aircraft cabins has been running since 2007 by Hamburg Aviation, and the jury is made up of 27 experts including renowned academics, engineers, specialist journalists and airline and aircraft manufacturer representatives.
The prizes will be announced at the virtual Aircraft Interiors Expo taking place between 14 and 16 September 2021.