Are these airplane seats the future of economy?

Prototype seat aims to deliver comfort

By FRANCESCA STREET, CNN
Courtesy LAYER via CNN

(CNN) - Flying economy has never been glamorous, but these streamlined new seats might make those cheap tickets a bit more alluring.

British design company LAYER has devised a prototype seat, designed for use in Airbus economy cabins on short to mid-haul flights, that promises to deliver heightened comfort levels.

Dubbed "Move," this concept seat is made of a fancy fiber that's connected to built-in smart sensors -- allowing passengers to manually control seat temperature, tension, pressure and movement, all via an app on their phone.

The app will also let passengers know when it's time to get up and stretch their legs or take a sip of water.

Stylish and savvy

Prototypes of the chair, the brainchild of LAYER founder Benjamin Hubert, reveal a chic piece of airplane furniture decked out in hues of red and blue. It certainly looks more stylish than a typical bucket class seat.

The design caters to the needs of 21st century passengers: there's a special pocket for laptops or tablets that will use pressure-sensitive fabric to detect if an electronic device has been left inside.

The seats don't recline -- so there'll be no passive-agressive conversations with the person in the row behind you. Instead, the focus is on controlling the situation in your seat.

There are different seat modes -- there's even a massage setting.

LAYER says there are other reasons to implement these swanky seats -- they're lightweight, so they'll reduce the overall onboard weight of the aircraft and cutting back on fuel.

The seats, 18 months in the making, were created as part of an ongoing creative partnership between LAYER and Airbus.

Seating satisfaction

The concept stands out amongst other innovative economy seat designs. Often, the focus is less on comfort and more on cramming as many people on the plane as possible.

Still, it is possible to create a comfy seat for budget travelers. In 2018, CNN Travel visited the factory where seats are produced for Singapore Airlines' Airbus A350-900 -- the aircraft flying the world's longest flight.

These premium economy seats include 38 inches of legroom, foot rests and adjustable headrests.

On the other end of the seating spectrum, in April 2018, CNN Travel reported on the new "standing-up seat" concept from Italian designers Aviointeriors.

LAYER thinks it's found an innovative -- but workable -- solution to the economy seat issue.

"All too often, new concepts for flying are focused on innovation in business class," says Hubert. "We were excited to take on this project with Airbus to find ways to improve and add value to the economy class experience -- for both the passenger and the airline."

Images shown with the consent of Airbus

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