A brand new double-decker plane seat design has been described as “roomy” yet “claustrophobic” by passengers, as it will see economy class passengers seated on top of one another.
Designer Alejandro Nuñez Vicente developed his “Chaise Longue Economy Seat” concept as a university student, and it came to global attention after it was shortlisted in the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards, as well as appearing in a CNN travel article.
The dual-level design sees passangers in the top row climb the steps to their seats, while those in the bottom row can stretch out their legs and lie flat.
Testing it out, CNN’s Francesca Street described it as “a little precarious” however she revealed that once she’d got to the top, she found it “roomy and comfortable”, and that there was plenty of room to stretch out her legs.
She added: “But if you don’t mind tight spaces, and you’re planning simply to sleep all flight, it could be an effective solution.”
Speaking about his design, Nuñez Vicente said: “I grow more from listening to the critics and listening to the bad comments, than from listening to the good comments and the flowers that they throw me.
“My purpose here is to change the economy class seats for the better of humanity, or for all the people that cannot afford to pay for more expensive tickets,” he says.
The new design also does away with the overhead storage cabin in usual airplanes, transferring the area for storage of carry-on luggage to between the top and bottom rows.
However, the design hasn’t come without criticism.
In response to the CNN article, author Amber Sparks tweeted: “Fresh hell just dropped”.
“One of the phrases I get a lot, is ‘If it’s not broken, why change it?’” admits Núñez Vicente. “So if passengers still fly in the worst economy class seats, why are we going to give them a better option? It makes money. That’s the goal of the airline at the end of the day, not to make your flight better.”
The seat design was initially intended for a new plane in development at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, however, Nunex Vincente has described how it could work in any medium to heavy-weight aircraft.
He also hopes to partner with an airline or seat manufacturer to make his dream a reality.
Speaking about the idea, he said: “We see it as the future of the economy class.”