Effective January 1, 2024, Departures® will no longer be available.

Card Members will no longer have access to Departures.com content or receive any print Departures magazines.

From Our Archive
This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

New Double Decker Airplane Seat Design Could be the Solution for Flying Post COVID

The unique design would give you more space and peace of mind.


Sam Heughan Is in Good Spirits

Film and TV

Sam Heughan Is in Good Spirits

The Scottish actor reflects on his homeland, the pleasure of a good drink, and the...

How the Gucci Loafer Became a Modern Icon


How the Gucci Loafer Became a Modern Icon

As its 70 years of illustrious history prove, the style makes a lasting impression.

What We’re Wearing to Travel in Style This Fall

Editors’ Picks

What We’re Wearing to Travel in Style This Fall

Suits, jackets, hikers, and insulation for the great outdoors. Plus, a home chef’s...

Long before the spread of coronavirus, designers were trying to develop unique ways to reconfigure commercial airline seats to make them more comfortable for passengers. Now, the focus is on safety to prevent the spread of deadly illnesses. But it seems once design accomplishes both.

The Zephyr Seat, created by designer Jeffrey O'Neill, features an airplane cabin with double-decker seats in premium economy. These seats lay flat while also giving passengers space from each other, limiting interactions. This could offer a level of protection from the spread of viruses such as COVID19.

Related: New Airplane Seat Designs Reflect Post-Coronavirus Travel

O'Neill's idea for the seat came after remembering a long-distance bus trip he made in Argentina that had bunk beds. To transform this into an airplane, the designer used the current space between the seat and overhead bin to make the double-decker.

"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."

The seats could be configured into a 2-4-2 lineup, meaning most airlines could still hold the same number of passengers. A pull-out ladder allows for the passenger on the top to access his seat. But it can easily be stowed away when not in use.

Related: A New Middle Seat Design Could Mean More Room on Airplanes

Of course, this unique design would mean passengers aren't rubbing elbows as they would in typical economy seats. Not only would that help make flying more pleasant, but it would also be safer if you're not as close to other passengers.

Although the Zephyr Seat is still in the concept phase, O'Neill said he has been in talks with four major airlines, including Delta as well as engineering partners. He even presented the idea at the 2019 Airline Interiors Expo at Hamburg, where airline executives expressed interest.


Let’s Keep in Touch

Subscribe to our newsletter

You’re no longer on our newsletter list, but you can resubscribe anytime.