Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Flying a long haul in an economy-class cabin can be stressful, but an airline seat designer thinks his design could revolutionize travel on a budget.
The concept of the “Chaise Longue” airplane seat, devised by Alejandro Núñez Vicente, began to be applied on a small scale last year, as part of a university project, when he was 21 years old.
The Economy Class seating concept was nominated for the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards, the industry’s top award, and the design gained online attention following an article on CNN.
Since then, Vicente Núñez has been causing a stir in the aviation world, negotiating with famous airlines and seat manufacturers.
And he got huge investments that allowed him to develop the project.
But while some marvel at Núñez Vicente’s innovation, others are concerned about the claustrophobia issue, particularly that sitting under another passenger would be worse, not better, than the current economy-class seating arrangement.
He benefits more from hearing criticism and negative reviews than he does from good ones and praise, Núñez Vicente told CNN in Hamburg, Germany, where he is showing his design for the first time at AIX 2022.
Designed for the everyday traveler, Núñez Vicente emphasizes that he is eager to hear what potential travelers have to say, whether it be positive or negative comments.
He explained, “My goal in being here is to trade economy-class seats for what’s in the interest of humanity, or all the people who can’t afford expensive tickets.”
The 21-year-old is expected to get more buzz this week when he shows off a full prototype of his design for the first time at AIX, one of the world’s largest aviation shows.
CNN was eager to test the seat to see what it would be like to sit in it in a split-level booth.
proof of concept
Núñez Vicente designed the prototype of the cabin with a two-step ladder that the passenger would use to reach the upper level.
Although it requires caution, but once in the seat, the passenger can feel comfortable in the space available to him, as there is plenty of room to spread his legs.
Although the prototype seats do not move, the seats are placed in different positions to indicate how to lie on them.
The design eliminates the presence of the upper trunk, instead, Núñez Vicente designed a space between the upper and lower levels to accommodate passenger luggage inside the cabin.
In the spacious halls that echo in the Hamburg Congress Center, where the exhibition takes place, it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be so close to the cabin ceiling.
Núñez Vicente believes that there will be a distance of 1.5 meters, separating the passenger seated on the upper level of the plane’s roof.
He explained that the passenger cannot stand upright in that space, something experienced by many passengers who cannot stand upright in regular economy rows, although it is assumed that taller passengers will experience more cramped space with this layout.
As for the lower level of seats, the original idea that inspired Núñez Vicente’s design was the lack of legroom in the Economy Class cabin. And with the absence of a front seat, it provides, through design, legroom and a footrest for added comfort.
However, the passenger can feel cramped, because the other level of seating is directly above and at eye level.
But if tight spaces don’t bother you and you simply plan to sleep during the flight, this seat can provide an effective solution for comfort.
Initially, the “Chaise Longue” seating concept was designed for a “Flying-V”, a new aircraft concept currently under development at Delft University of Technology, where Núñez Vicente taught.
Núñez Vicente believes that the design can be implemented inside a Boeing 747, an Airbus A330 or any other medium or large aircraft.
Núñez Vicente is confident that his ambitious design can become a reality, but also admits that wacky airline seat ideas often never make it past the concept stage to become reality.
During this long process, the strict rules and regulations of the aviation industry can become barriers to project implementation.
In addition, the economy class seat on the plane has not changed for decades, although various designers have reinvented the concepts of these seats.
However, the seat designer is already working on the next step, designing the seat frame to be lighter than the current model.
Vicente Núñez hopes to partner with an airline or seat manufacturer to make this happen.
“Right now, we show the market what we have. We let the market come and tell us what we have to do next,” he said.