VIDEO: New concept to bring futuristic capsule seats onto planes

Designers are getting creative with a concept for ultra private pod seats on airlines that could give premium travellers more privacy than ever before.

"The Air Lair": The radical idea to bring futuristic capsule seating onto planes

Evolving the airline experience: airlines have splashed out on suites and staggered seating with privacy screens in the premium cabins. Could private pods be the next step?

Two British firms are hoping their concept for capsule style seating on board planes will draw interest from airlines and offer passengers new levels of privacy in the skies, if the idea takes off.

The ‘Air-Lair’: individual, hard-shell pods containing a flat bed, mood lighting and projector from which to beam the in-flight entertainment is the radical idea being developed on paper by aircraft seat manufacturer Contour Aerospace and product design consultancy, Factory Design.

The firms say their design would give passengers more control over their personal space and cater to airlines looking to save space in their premium cabins.

The idea of sleeping in matchbox-sized living quarters is nothing new, at least on the ground, with Japan leading the way in the 1970s by inventing the capsule hotel.

But applying the concept at 35,000ft would turn flying into a truly solitary experience at the front of the plane, beyond the privacy screens offered in today’s premium’s cabins.

It’s not the only radical idea for business class seating developed by Contour Aerospace and Factory Design.

Last year, the duo unveiled a protoype for a lightweight business class seat that doubles as a gaming station and is designed to appeal to gamers on long-haul flights.

"The Air Lair": The radical idea to bring futuristic capsule seating onto planes

'Not for Wimps': the concept for a solitary gaming seat for business class passengers wanting entertainment on long-haul flights.

Their NFW (Not for Wimps) concept attracted a lot of attention at an aircraft interiors trade show last year, but the prototype remains just that.

In reality, aircraft seating isn’t evolving at breakneck pace.

While airlines are happy to pull out all the stops for passengers willing to pay for a luxury experience, new aircraft seating is expensive to develop and retrofit into cabins, must have a long lifecycle and be certified to meet airworthiness standards.

A long wait ahead

At the back of the plane, cost-conscious airlines remain focused on replacing seats with slimmer, lightweight versions that can help them with fuel savings and squeeze more rows into the cabin.

And looking at what airlines are doing in the premium cabins on their next generation planes suggests that we’re not going to see radical changes in interior cabin design any time soon.

The ‘angled’ seats on Lufthansa’s all-new business class, which were recently unveiled on Boeing’s latest plane, the 748-8I jumbo jet are a world away from the radical ideas that are being debated among forward-thinking designers.

But that’s not to say that some airlines aren’t trying to push the boundaries.

Niche airline, Air New Zealand has poured huge investment into new cabin furniture in both its long-haul economy and premium cabins, to stand out from the crowd.

Its new ‘cuddle class’ seating in economy, which converts a row of three seats into a couch, and ‘spaceseat’ in premium economy, which can be tilted towards or away from the neighbouring seat, are designed to give passengers more control over their space.

The next wave of cabin innovation will depend on whether airlines feel that they can make a return on their investment.

Radical change to aircraft interior design is more likely to be seen on private jets, where cabins often double as offices, luxury lounges and bedrooms.

What others have said

  1. poor design, today’s ideas are about open plan spaces, not peas in a pod this bloke in the film really don’t know what he’s talking about, what about mothers with babies and three year old screaming kids who want there dads, these so called designers have no clue. this design is fraught with turbulence.

  2. the aesthetic is ok the form handling is nothing special and the form/ colour is very over powering – my biggest problem is the concept it is just predictable, very predictable actually!

    Cocoon ideas have been around since the 90′s if not earlier and been used in restaurant dinning to aircraft seating with limited success and mostly by university students. Not an amazing bit of design – shame

  3. Looks like they provide a lot of privacy for crying after watching your kids getting molested by the TSA pedophiles.

  4. All that work for something that wouldn’t have passed in a college design course. No basis in reality and minimal, for the most part, function in the intended environment.

  5. Overweight people, elderly people, disabled people, couples, people who get sick throwing up, people with bad gas tooting their bum horn aloft your noggin. Does not look too tempting to me. Good aesthetic idea. Did you consider anybody but yourself/friends when designing this? Convince a business flyer to lower themselves below another traveler and well, lets just say this idea wont fly too far

  6. Seen the video and that just what those people with clausophobia needs. Not a good idea, especially with people who are the sizes of sumo wrestlers!

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