Tag: seats

Boeing designs self-sterilizing jet bathrooms

Boeing’s self-cleaning lavatory kills germs with UV light after each use.Video provided by NewsyNewslook

NEW YORK (AP) — Boeing engineers think they have a solution for smelly, grimy airplane bathrooms: ultraviolet light.

The aircraft manufacturer has filed a patent for a self-cleaning lavatory that disinfects all surfaces in just three seconds.

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Many passengers would welcome more sanitary airplane bathrooms, but they may have to wait a while to benefit from Boeing’s technology.

The typical domestic plane has just three bathrooms — one in first class and two at the rear. That number hasn’t changed in decades even as airlines cram more rows onto planes and fill an ever-higher percentage of those seats. And with less time on the ground, those bathrooms aren’t always cleaned to the fullest, despite the increased use.

Boeing’s new bathroom design uses ultraviolet light to clean the bathroom between uses. The Chicago-based company says the system will take three seconds to clean the toilet seat, sink and countertop in an unoccupied lavatory. Boeing plans to use Far UV, which it says is different than the waves used in tanning beds and is not harmful to people.

The design also incorporates a hands-free faucet, soap dispenser, trash flap, toilet lid and seat and a hand dryer to decrease the number of surfaces passengers have to touch. Boeing says it is also working on a hands-free door latch.

Don’t expect to see any of this on planes soon. Boeing says it still needs to study the idea further, including designing a system to lift and close the toilet seat by itself so that all surfaces are exposed during the cleaning cycle. Once offered to airlines, it could take years for carriers to update their fleet with the new bathrooms.

Airbus reveals idea to make airplane seating even worse: stack fliers on top of each other

screenshot of Airbus patent

Airlines have done just about everything they can to cram in more seats, and as a result we’re now at the point airplane seating has gotten so crowded that a consumer group has asked for a newPassenger Bill of Rights to set minimum airplane seat size. But more seats equal more money, and Airbus has come up with a new way to add even more seating into already limited space: do the same thing cities do when they run out of space and can no longer build across — start building up.

The plane manufacturer has filed a patent with the European Patent Office for designs. The new layout would feature a raised mezzanine for extra seating inside the cabin. If the seating plan ever comes to fruition, not only will you have someone’s seatback to worry about, you might get one more passenger coming down above you. As the patent diagrams show, you could at least have a booty hanging above your face (and what could be wrong with that?).

But don’t worry, the patent assures the new design will still provide, “a high level of comfort.”

“In the reclined lying position, the backrest portion may extend at an angle of approximately 130 to 180 relative to the seating portion. In one embodiment of the passenger seating arrangement…at least one of the first and the second seat in its reclined lying position, is provide an entirely flat supporting surface.”

screenshot of patent

Well, that does sound nice, particularly for those sitting up top — as long as they don’t mind climbing down from a glorified bunk bed every time they want to stretch their legs or use the bathroom.

This could be a significant improvement over modern-day economy. But the patent actually recommends this scheme for business class, which does make sense from an available space perspective, but it’s hard to imagine anyone who’s paid several thousand dollars for a ticket agree to be “stacked” in any way, shape or form.

How it’s all stacked remains a very open question, as the patent proposes no less than seven formations. Some look more appealing than others. Figure 10, for example, has passengers facing each other in a way that’s not totally dissimilar to the recently revealed “honeycomb” seating plan that was the subject of internet outrage.

screenshot of patent

Thankfully, the idea remains just that, according to one Airbus spokesperson, who reassured theTelegraph:

“This does not mean they are necessarily going to be adopted into an aircraft design. This preserves the innovation and idea.”

For now we’ll just hope Airbus adopts one of these innovative ideas instead.

Four of the best cabin seating concepts we’ve seen (and one truly awful one)

There are only so many inches in each airline cabin, but the carriers themselves are always trying to figure out how many additional seats they can shove into limited space, and it seems like they’re not going to stop until the boarding process becomes a game of Human Tetris. So thank goodness there are other engineering and design firms trying to work in the opposite direction, by maximizing that square footage without sacrificing passenger comfort.

These are a few of the most promising (and one completely awful sounding) seating configurations or cabin designs that have been proposed or submitted for patents this year.

1. Side-Slip: This seating concept would not only improve and speed up the boarding process, but would also turn the middle seat into prime real estate, as it would be a full 2 inches wider than the seats on either side of it. The Side-Slip works just as its name suggests: the aisle seat slides up and over the middle seat during boarding and deplaning, widening the aisle from its standard 19 inches to 41 inches, allowing two passengers to walk or stand side-by-side, and even to allow for a wheelchair to be rolled through the cabin. Side-Slip designer Hank Scott told ABC News that his company is “preparing for production” of the seats and that, so far, 23 airlines have expressed interest.

Photo: B/E Aerospace

2. B/E Aerospace Smart Seat Wireless Actuator System: This concept doesn’t have a catchy or memorable name, but if it really increases leg room, then they could call it the Wireless Boiling Garbage Stack and I’d be delighted by it. This economy-seating configuration would allow the seats to move forward or backward along a grooved track in the cabin floor, adjusting the amount of leg room according to the height of each passenger. The flight crew would control the system using an app on their tablets during the boarding process. The B/E Aerospace engineers said that there would only be a “modest” increase in the amount of legroom, but an increase is an increase.

Diagram: SII Deutschland

3. SANTO Seat: The SANTO (Special Accommodation Needs for Toddlers and Overweight Passengers) Seat isn’t for everyone, but it could make flying more comfortable for both overweight passengers and the person seated beside them. The seat, which would be located in the rear of the cabin, is one and a half times the width of a standard airline seat, so it can either be used to accommodate a passenger of size or to hold a child’s booster seat. “The beneficiaries of this concept are both operators and travelers alike, as for a moderate surcharge, the safety of traveling infants can be significantly increased and the comfort of oversized travelers drastically improved,” Peter Miehlke of SANTO Seat designer SII Deutschland said.

Photo: Air Astana Official

4. Air Astana Economy Sleeper: This isn’t a new seating concept as much as it’s a repurposing (and rebranding and upselling of) the existing row of seats on Air Astana flights from Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, to London-Heathrow, Frankfurt and Paris. If you’re willing to pay an extra $910 –$2,290 instead of a $1,380 economy fare – you will receive a mattress to place over a standard row of three seats, ensuring that you’ll sleep just as well as the guy who snagged the empty row at the back of the plane. But the Economy Sleeper is a bargain compared with Air Astana’s full-fare business class cabin, which would cost $5,565 for those same flights. Nothing makes me sleep more soundly than an extra three grand in my pocket.

Photo: Zodiac Seats France

5. The Economy Class Cabin Hexagon, aka The Devil’s Configuration: No. Just no. This proposed layout (which was pulled from a forgotten filing cabinet in the bowels of Hell) wouldreplace the traditional middle seat with a slightly offset rear-facing seat, forcing those passengers to either make or avoid eye contact with the people on either side of them for the duration of the flight. It would also make the boarding process even more awkward, as it seems like passengers would have to crawl on all fours to reach the window seat, so not only would you have to try not to look at that guy for an extended period of time, you’d also have the image of his bobbing hindquarters seared onto your already overworked retinas. Go home, seat designers. You’re drunk.

The seats aren’t likely to find their way onto a major airline anytime soon – if ever.

But that hasn’t stopped the Internet from exploding with stories about an airplane seating plan that would force passengers to face each other in alternating directions.

What’s prompted all that talk? One of the world’s largest airplane seat manufacturers has patented such a plan, which would allow carriers to squeeze more passengers into the economy cabins of their planes.

In its patent, Zodiac Seats France – a division of Zodiac Aerospace – calls the seating arrangement “economy class cabin hexagon.” On planes where coach cabins have middle seats, the layout would turn the middle seat backwards to – in Zodiac’s words – “increase cabin density while also creating seat units that increase the space available at the shoulder and arm area by creating an overlap in the shoulder areas of adjacent seats.”

The seat-maker has issued renderings and diagrams of its proposed seating arrangement. For now, the idea is just an “exploratory concept.” And even with the patent filing, it’s unclear when – if ever – such a configuration might make its way into the cabin of a major passenger airline.

Despite the potentially awkward face-to-face arrangement, Zodiac claims the layout does have some upside for fliers. For example, Zodiac suggests the alternating seat direction would end up giving fliers four extra inches of legroom.

“It’s a different way of travelling, with people facing each other,” Zodiac vice president Pierre-Antony Vastra says to The Australian newspaper. “We can have nice conversations.”

Already dozens of stories on the topic have surfaced on the Internet, appearing in publications across the globe. The reviews are both over-the-top and generally negative.

Among those, Wired magazine called it “the most nightmarish idea for plane seating ever.” The reputable Globe and Mail of Toronto says the seating idea is “horrifying.”Conde Naste Traveler says the seat design “will haunt you forever” while worrying about “unavoidable eye contact, … hand-holding with your neighbors” and general all-around awkwardness.

There’s more. Tech site Gizmodo? It chimed in too, saying the design “almost seems like a sick joke or some misguided reference to the fear of an unknown serial killer.”Vox struck a similar theme, saying the proposed cabin layout “looks like something from a future Mad Max sequel.”

For now, though, fliers should take a deep breath and relax; this “exploratory concept” is unlikely to fly with a major carrier anytime soon, if ever.

Those hard plastic seats look about as comfortable as a park bench – Yan Baczkowski

4 new cabin classes to get excited about in 2015

So far in 2015, we’ve seen a lot of advancements in the world of air travel: Virgin Atlantic getting blinged-out with smartwear, Delta upgrading its Wi-Fi capabilities, and JetBlue accepting Apple Pay in the sky, to name a few. While all these tech innovations make air travel more tolerable, one airplane facet fliers are often complaining about is cabin class and seat comfort (remember British Airways big First Class faux pas in January?).

Luckily, a number of airlines are delivering new cabin classes this year to get excited about.

korean air

Korean Air Prestige Suites

As someone with an over-active bladder, being trapped in a window seat on a long flight gives me anxiety. Which is why I find Korean Air’s new Prestige Suites really exciting — you have enough space to walk around your seatmates without waking them up to use the toilet. And there are other features, too: 22.5-inch-wide seats (the average is 17.2), an ottoman foot rest and a 75-to-87-inch seat pitch (compared to the average 31-inch airline pitch). Since last month, Korean Air’s Prestige Suites are being used on flights to Singapore, and are being installed on all new aircraft.

air astana

Air Astana’s Economy Sleeper Class

If you thought actually getting sleep in economy was a far fetched dream, Air Astana’s new Economy Sleeper Class turns your fantasies into reality. Launched this month, the sleeper class allows you to enjoy a mattress, pillow and duvet, plus amenities like eye masks, socks, mouthwash and earplugs. By the end of the month, this class will be available on flights from Kazakhstan to London, Frankfurt, Paris and Hong Kong.

singapore airlines

3. Singapore Airline’s Premium Economy Class

While tickets for Singapore Airline’s new Premium Economy Class went on sale this February, the first passengers to experience it will be flying from Singapore to Sydney this August. With over $80 million spent on the project, top features include fully leather seats reaching 19.5 inches wide, 8-inch recline, calf rest, foot bar, power stations, and extra compartments for holding water bottles, laptops and cell phone. Inflight entertainment also gets an upgrade, with the installation of larger 13.3-inch HD monitors and active noise-cancellation headphones. For the first time, premium economy passengers will be able to select from a menu with three meal choices from the popular Singapore Airlines service, Book the Cook. Beyond the range of food options, passengers will also be invited to sip champagne or a selection of curated wines. With all the new amenities, Singapore Airlines is situated to become the leader in affordable luxury travel.


SAS “Erik Viking”

SAS debuted its sleek and smart new long-haul cabins — dubbed “Erik Viking” — February 17 on a flight from Copenhagen to Newark (this new class will mostly be available on flights to the U.S.). Three different cabins have been revamped, each with its own special features, like direct aisle access, full flat beds, massage seats, and luxury bedding. All have personal power stations, on-demand entertain systems with 9-15 inch screens and Wi-Fi capabilities.

Bonus: Cathay Pacific’s new business class seat

Cathay Pacific’s new business class seat actually won’t launch until February 2016, but you should still get excited. While photos aren’t yet available and very few details are known, the airline will be making use of their Airbus 350 fleet to offer upgraded flatbed seats, nicknamed “FB2+,” made by Zodiac Aerospace with design help from the Porsche Design Group. Stay tuned for more details are they unfold.