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Lie-flat Airline Seats May be Next Big Thing for Budget Travelers

San Francisco startup pioneers social-distant-ready "sleep seats" for Economy Class

June 15, 2020

San Francisco-based startup, Zephyr Aerospace, is revolutionizing the possibilities of economy class while creating a “made-for-social-distancing” solution. The company is introducing an airline seat and bed combo for Premium Economy passengers.

Lie-flat seating is well known to business and first-class travelers — an indulgence coveted and purchased for its myriad perks. Now a fresh innovation could bring the same concept to economy plus, and it couldn’t have come at a more important time. Travelers in the economy cabin can now sit, lie flat, and sleep in the same seat and maintain social distancing rules.

Zephyr is a brand new airline seating concept that transforms the seats in Premium Economy class on wide-body aircraft into lie-flat beds. The idea, still in the concept phase, seeks to enhance the in-flight experience as airlines encourage people to travel again.

The lie-flat “double-decker” seating concept offers a comfortable bed with all-aisle access in a 2-4-2 configuration — however, it manages to maintain the density of existing premium economy set-ups on 90 percent of airlines worldwide. It is easily the most cost effective way to sleep on long-distance commercial flights.

Zephyr’s seat and bed combo provide back of the plane travelers with the same privacy as business class travelers. The non-mechanical sleep seats have limited movable fixtures and are made with high 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.

A drop-down footwell cover increases personal space in each seat, which allows for multiple lie-flat positions. There’s even space for small children and families to lie next to each other (dependent on an airline’s social distancing rules). Airlines can retrofit these sleep seats between a 38” to 42” seat pitch, according to brand preferences and industry standards, for an increase ancillary revenue.

Zephyr is currently in development and working with crowdfunding sources to move the project forward.