A new seat design would strap barriers to middle seats to divide the window and aisle passengers for travel during the global pandemic
Achieving social distancing on aeroplanes has been a tenuous struggle as airlines are seeing rising passenger numbers, but have been operating under reduced schedules after cutting the number of flights offered to save money. With more people flying on fewer flights, the country is slowly seeing the return to full flights, and airlines are doing their best to reconcile revenue with safety.
United Airlines, while initially announcing that it would block off middle seats from booking, is offering free changes to passengers on full flights and using larger aircraft that offer more empty seats for spacing, according to The Points Guy. Delta Air Lines, on the other hand, has said it will fly more flights to prevent full-flight situations, Reuters reported.
Blocking off middle seats has gained traction with three airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines, which have limited sales to prevent middle seats from being selected. But the distance between the aisle and middle seat is way less than the six feet required by the federal government’s social distancing guidelines and doesn’t effectively deal with the adjacent rows.
One designer took to the drawing board to craft a new seat add-on meant to address the issues with social distancing when flying. Take a look at the new concept.
French engineer Florian Barjot and his company EarthBay crafted the new seat add-on, called PlanBay, as an alternative to true six-feet-apart social distancing on aeroplanes. The design keeps the seat and rows intact, unlike other designs that feature reversible middle seats but adds numerous barriers to effectively create a cocoon of safety. Included are three different barriers: a vertical barrier to separate the aisle and window seats, a horizontal barrier to block from the row directly behind and head-level dividers.
The kit is one solid piece, which can be strapped to the middle seat. It also fills the gaps in between the seats to further divide the rows from each other.
The design also accounts for in-flight entertainment, contouring accordingly so as to not obstruct seat-back screens. Instead of just leaving the middle seat open, it makes better use of it by installing trays to store items.
Overhead air vents will also be unobstructed, which aid in providing clean, filtered air directly to the passengers below. The design is patent-pending and is just awaiting an airline to take interest in the concept.