Is this double-decker seat the future of air travel?

San Francisco startup Zephyr Aerospace has introduced a new airline seat and bed combo for premium economy passengers. Thanks to its double-decker style, the Zephyr Seat could one day allow passengers in economy to lie flat. In this design, two people would be sharing a row, one on top of the other.

According to CNN, Zephyr’s CEO, Jeffrey O’Neill, was inspired by a sleepless flight between New York to Singapore a few years ago, on board what was then the world’s longest commercial flight. “Why is it so difficult to find an affordable way to lie flat on a flight that’s 19 hours?” O’Neill said.

We believe that new types of travelers will require privacy or will want to pay extra for that as much as they would pay for the ability to sleep

Jeffrey O’Neill, Zephyr CEO

Zephyr’s new concept transforms the seats in premium economy class on wide-body aircraft into lie-flat beds. The idea could revolutionize the in-flight experience. The layout of the seating would require a 2-4-2 configuration because this would allow most airlines to maintain their passenger numbers without sacrificing passenger comfort. O’Neill claims the new design would be the cheapest way to sleep on long-distance commercial flights.

Zephyr’s seat and bed combo provide budget travellers with the same privacy as business class travellers. The non-mechanical sleep seats have limited movable fixtures and are made with the highest standard lightweight composite materials, reducing direct maintenance costs for airlines. A telescopic ladder provides quick and easy access to the upper area and can be removed after boarding. The drop-down foot cover increases personal space in each seat, which allows for multiple lie-flat positions. There would be space for children and families to lie next to each other.

© Zephyr Aerospace

Zephyr will be sold wholesale to commercial airlines and directly to consumers of private aircrafts. The seat will also be sold in the form of licensing to seat manufacturers and airlines. Each seat will be priced at $30-40k/unit, which is 60% less than the average cost of a business class seat and 80% lighter (due to advanced composites and limited moving pieces). The Zephyr Seat can be configured to any mode of transportation (air, rail, bus, military).