Travel: Is Airbus' sofa-style seat the future of business class travel? - - PressFrom - US
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TravelIs Airbus' sofa-style seat the future of business class travel?

08:57  09 april  2019
08:57  09 april  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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Airbus ' new "Settee Corner" chair offers sofa - style airplane seating alongside all the usual business class features. Its creators say it could be the future Even in the swankiest business class situation cabin fever can set in. That 's where Airbus ' new "Settee Corner" chair comes in, offering couch-style

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On a long-haul flight, passengers spend the time working, eating, sleeping, relaxing -- and all in the same seat.

Even in the swankiest business class situation cabin fever can set in.

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That's where Airbus' new "Settee Corner" chair comes in, offering couch-style airplane seating, alongside all the usual business class features.

The new airplane seat premiered at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2019 (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany, attracting buzz from passengers and airlines alike.

On these new seats, fliers can recline, lounge-style, just like on a couch at home. They can be joined by a traveling partner for an aperitif and to enjoy the in-flight entertainment.

And when it's time to sleep, they just lie down on the seat, no mechanisms needed.

It's part of a wider trend visible at AIX -- aircraft and seat manufacturers looking to make radical changes to the airplane seat.

Transforming the traditional

The "Settee Corner" concept was designed by Airbus in collaboration with seat manufacturer Geven.

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Is this sofa - style seat the future of business class air travel ?

Airbus ’ new “Settee Corner” chair offers couch- style airplane seating , alongside all the usual business class features. They can be joined by a travelling partner for an aperitif and to enjoy the in-flight entertainment. And when it’s time to sleep, they just lie down on the seat , no mechanisms

The team based the concept on an economy class three-seater configuration -- transforming this recognizable, budget option into a lightweight and luxurious business class concept.

"Airbus is promoting the 321 long range -- now, the 321 is going to fly seven--to-eight hours, so we need to have the comfort in business class, a lie-flat surface, but with very competitive weight," Amalia Martinez Martin, business line leader for tailored equipment, tells CNN Travel at AIX.

Martinez Martin says the seat is 30-50% lighter than a traditional business class seat. Plus, because it uses a configuration that's already familiar to airlines, it could go from concept to reality pretty speedily.

"We've got all features that you would find in a business class seat," she adds.

There's the TV screen, a spot to stow belongings, a roomy overhead locker and tray table for dining -- and, of course, the additional couch-like experience.

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Airbus has also been involved in developing new aircraft seat designs. In February, British design company LAYER unveiled a prototype seat , designed for use in Airbus economy cabins on short to medium-haul flights, which promises Is this sofa - style seat the future of business class air travel ?

Personally I think that business class travel is comfortable, whatever they proposed seems less comfortable The feedback you provide will help us show you more relevant content in the future . The sofa - style seating allows you to sit and recline in more ways. Because it is wider, you can sit on

On one end of the "settee" there's a seat equipped with a safety belt to use during take-off and landing. Another safety belt will be installed further down the couch for use in the sleep position.

Testing out the seat

CNN Travel tested out the seat at AIX. It uses the economy-style structure, so there's not a lot of leg-room in the take-off position.

But the roomy sofa-style space is very inviting. It's easy to imagine reclining with a book or tucking yourself under a blanket to watch a movie.

It'd also be super sociable if you were traveling with someone else.

As for sleeping, the mock-ups at AIX are the same overall length -- 185 centimeters -- as Airbus's traditional business class seat.

Martinez Martin says there's the potential to make it a bit longer, up to 195 centimeters. They're going to test drive both lengths.

Because the seat curves, it feels relatively private -- but there's also the option for airlines to add a curtain or screen.

There are other advantages.

"Each passenger has direct access to the aisle, each cabin crew has direct access to the passenger, easily, not like in some of the staggered configurations," explains Martinez Martin.

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Airbus also thinks it'll be appealing to airlines who fly the same aircraft on both long-haul and short-haul flights:

"It could also be a possibility to certify the two positions for taxi, take-off and landing," explains Martinez Martin. That means they could use the seat for two people, as well as one person.

Passenger feedback

So what's the feedback been like at AIX?

"Some of the airlines are crazy about it because, as I said, they are always looking for how to make a better business of their aircraft," says Martinez Martin.

"If you tell them you are going to carry on less weight, they [work out the] fuel consumption that they can save."

Meanwhile prospective passengers like the variety the seat offers.

"You feel like being at home in your own lounge," says Martinez Martin.

Airbus thinks the concept could really take flight.

Big trend

Airbus aren't the only company exploring mechanism-free, lounge-style business class seating.

French company Safran has also designed a seat that doesn't use mechanisms. Instead, Safran Essential Business Class uses cushioning in innovative ways.

It's not quite a sofa, but it's a similar vibe.

Speaking at AIX, Quentin Munier, strategy and innovation director at Safran, tells CNN Travel that this couch-style trend is the natural next step, after business class seats progressed to full flat designs.

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Airbus reveals new settee- style business class seat so passengers can lounge around mid-flight. The new seat , called the Settee Corner, doesn't recline It is based on a three seat configuration and could be used on the new Airbus long-range jet, the A321LR. The seat is up to 50 per cent lighter than a

That fantasy might soon be a reality, according to Airbus . The couch- style seating would allow passengers to lounge, put up their legs, and even nap lying down. Of course, the seat does have its drawbacks. Taller people might prefer business class seats that recline rather than this curved

"The sofa principle is something that is interesting to explore," says Munier.

Munier echoes Martinez Martin's comments about this kind of seat being more sociable. He also explains that having the ability to move around is important to passengers' well-being on the flight.

Also on display at AIX is French company Style and Design Group's innovative approach to business class.

Style and Design's vice president of design, Romain Chareyre, shows CNN Travel the company's "Moments" model.

First off, it looks like a swanky armchair, not something you'd expect to see on an airline.

Provocative velvet

Kitted out in on-trend green velvet, with monochrome floral cushioning for the headrest, it's eye-catching.

It also doesn't use any complicated mechanisms -- it's got a back rest that folds down and foot rest that folds up, turning into a full bed.

Sitting on the lightweight seat, it's easy to maneuver into different positions.

Chareyre claims the use of velvet was deliberately provocative. "We want to ask questions," he says.

It's worked.

"We have good feedback from airlines, from seat vendors," says Chareyre. "They like the geometry, the philosophy behind it, the simplicity."

Passengers, meanwhile, like the idea of space.

"You're not stuck between units, or constrained," says Chareyre. "The idea is to be very versatile and open a lot of opportunities for the passenger."

The Moments chair will also have the so-called "Honeymoon" configuration, where two seats could be positioned next to one another.

So will couch-style seats coexist or replace the traditional business class seat?

Both Safran and Style and Design's concepts were shortlisted for the Crystal Cabin Awards 2019, so the aviation industry's clearly taking notice.

"I think it's replacing it," says Martinez Martin. "I think it's more the future of the cabin."

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