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A step up for economy class seating

A Cambridge, Massachusetts independent designer has come up with some interesting alternative designs for inflight economy seating. The key concept: making use of the empty space that’s currently headroom.

Emil Jacob’s website offers a range of patent-pending design options, from double-decker business class to tiered economy class designs. The Boston Globe recently profiled Jacob and his designs.

“I was looking up at all the height, and I thought it was absurd that people are suffering down here,” Jacob said. “Just a couple of steps away there is a lot of space and comfort.”
He eventually came up with the “step seat principle.” It involves elevating alternate rows of seats, from one to five steps above the cabin floor, to give passengers more room to lean back in economy class and enough space in business class to lie down, either by sliding their legs under the seat in front of them or stretching out in pods stacked on top of each other – no sweater on the floor required.

Maybe some images would help… Here are some sketches of the concept:

For a premium economy seat, this is pretty good. Hey, you get a bed! And it’s a little more defined than the Lufthansa bunk bed proto-design.

Another of Jacob’s designs is a bit simpler, but makes use of vertical separation to expand legroom while keeping density high. The trick: Inserting a seven-inch platform in alternating rows. Very clever:

Yes, these concepts aren’t perfect. I can imagine the steps causing problems for some passengers, either during boarding, or in an emergency. And some of the designs could lead to a seat shell coming quite close to your face. But I like the way Jacob is thinking.

Airlines, take notice.