Zephyr Aerospace

Double-Decker Design Lets Economy Class Passengers Lay Down On Flights

The way that airlines have been packing travelers into their tin cans lately would make sardines blush. Even short flights can pose a challenge to your joints and lower back.

Long haul flights are another matter entirely. When you're stuck in economy class, stretching out even remotely is a dream, never mind actually laying down to catch forty winks.

So basically, if you're traveling anywhere via airplane, you're pretty much guaranteed a restless, sleepless, and uncomfortable journey.

However, one company wants to change that, and they have a pretty radical design in mind to make that dream of stretching out and laying down in economy class a reality.

Imagine bunk beds, but for an entire airplane cabin.

Zephyr Aerospace

That's a good starting point for the Zephyr Seat, a unique double-decker design that would see every economy class passenger on a flight get precious leg room and the ability to even lay down, without sacrificing the number of passengers on a flight.

The man behind the Zephyr Seat, Jeffrey O'Neill, has suffered right along with the rest of us.

Zephyr Aerospace

In fact, he came up with the idea for the double-decker Zephyr seat after a particularly uncomfortable flight from New York to Singapore.

"I'm on probably the best rated airline in the world, and I'm getting wonderful service and the food is edible, but I can't sleep," he told CNN Travel. "This is really uncomfortable. Why is it so difficult to find an affordable way to lie flat on a flight that's 19 hours?"

The actual design concept was inspired by a long-distance bus journey he'd previously made.

While traveling on a bus through Argentina, he'd been able to snooze quite comfortably in one of the bunk beds that had been installed inside the vehicle.

In fact, he says he actually slept better on that bus ride than on his flight to Singapore. So bunk beds certainly seemed like the perfect answer.

Not only would the Zephyr Seat provide considerably more comfort, but it would provide more privacy, too.

Zephyr Aerospace

And fights over the arm rest are the least of the matter in the coronavirus era. Social distancing is much easier to maintain when everyone has their own little space rather than being jammed in shoulder-to-shoulder with a bunch of strangers.

According to O'Neill, it wouldn't actually be that hard to add these new seats to existing aircraft.

Zephyr Aerospace

He says that the double-decker design could be retrofitted by using the existing space between the seats and the overhead bins.

Those who draw the top bunk would use a telescoping ladder to climb into their seat.

Zephyr Aerospace

"We basically retrofitted a whole other seat on top of another," O'Neill told CNN Travel. "So it's essentially two levels, it's not as tall off the ground as people might imagine, it's only four and a half feet off the ground from the entry point to the lower seat to the upper seat."

It looks like it will be some time before the Zephyr Seat will be on actual flights, however.

Zephyr Aerospace

O'Neill says he's been in consultation with four major airlines, including Delta, but the company has yet to receive any firm commitments. In the meantime, the Zephyr Seat is heading toward safety testing, a process that could take up to three years to complete.

h/t: CNN Travel