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The latest seat solution for social distancing up in the air hopes to help airlines grappling with how to resume some semblance of normal operations as travelers contemplate flying again following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The seat design, called Interspace Lite and made by aerospace manufacturer Safran and transportation technology company Universal Movement, features a curved design over the middle seat that separates people sitting in the aisle and window and renders the middle seat unusable. Unlike other designs, the barrier isn't clear so you can’t see your fellow passenger.
The seat design “is a great innovation for privacy of passengers, even more so in the post-Covid-19 travel environment that’s ahead of us,” Quentin Munier, the EVP of strategy & innovation at Safran Seats, told Travel + Leisure in a statement.
Production on the seat solution is expected to start in the early summer, the company shared with T+L.
The seat was originally designed as the Interspace and debuted in December 2019. It featured a wing option and was intended to make sleeping easier, CNN reported. The Interspace Lite was then redesigned for today’s travel climate.
“With the travel industry severely affected by the spread of coronavirus, we have also sought to provide a solution... that could allow airlines to get back on their feet much sooner than if standard aircraft seating were to remain the same,” Luke Miles, the founder of Universal Movement, said in a statement, adding it was “a significant step in helping support the industry and also make planes a much more comfortable space for passengers when they look to travel again in the future.”
This design is the latest effort to rethink how air travel will function in the post-COVID-19 age. In April, Italian aircraft interior manufacturing company Aviointeriors released their design, a reversed middle seat with a clear shield wrapped around it.
In the meantime, several airlines have said they will block certain seats to promote social distancing on board, including Delta Air Lines, which has committed to limiting the main cabin to no more than 60 percent full. And United Airlines said it will notify passengers if their flight is going to be full and offer alternative options like rebooking on a different flight.