Lonely Planet Writer

Economy flights could become a lot more comfortable

Flying economy could feel a lot like flying business thanks to a new design innovation that’s set to completely overhaul economy aircraft seating. With smart textiles that record and transmit information from a tailor-made app, passengers can monitor and improve their journey with a variety of smart functions.

British design agency LAYER has designed smart seating for Airbus passengers. Image courtesy of Airbus.

Flying economy is usually a battle for leg space and elbow room as manufacturers shave off crucial centimetres from streamlined seats. Lately, passengers are starting to feel the squeeze in shrinking spaces which is why British design agency LAYER has developed a new seating prototype which could make flying economy a lot more comfortable.

The new prototype seat, called Move, is designed for use in Airbus economy cabins on short to mid-haul flights. Utilising smart textiles woven into the seat fabric, passengers can monitor and control seat temperature, pressure and movement all through an app on their smartphones.

Seat settings can be controlled from a smartphone app. Image courtesy of Airbus.

The seats will even alert passengers when it’s time to stretch their legs to improve circulation, when and how to do in-seat stretches and remind them when it’s time to drink some water. There are also different seat modes, including ‘sleep’, ‘mealtime’ and ‘massage’ settings.

To make the seating as comfortable as possible, the smart fabric automatically adjusts the tension according to the passenger’s size and weight during the flight and measurements can be controlled and adjusted from the app. Adjustable can accommodate all sorts of shapes, sizes and needs. A LAYER spokesperson told Lonely Planet that the table tray can extend from half to full size “utilising the space for whatever the passenger needs, from a work surface to a leaning spot for a quick snooze.”

Table sizes can be adjusted for comfort and use. Image courtesy of Airbus.

The seats also come with pockets to store laptops and tablets and if any scatterbrains forget to remove their electronic device after landing, Move app will notify them through the pressure-sensitive yarn which will detect if a device has been left inside.

“At LAYER, we believe good design should be accessible to all,” said Benjamin Hubert, the designer behind Move. “All too often, new concepts for flying are focused on innovation in business class. 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.”

Move is designed for the 21st-century passenger. Image courtesy of Airbus.

The seats were created as part of an ongoing creative partnership between LAYER and Airbus. For more of LAYER’s design work, see here.