NATIONAL NEWS

Here’s what it might be like to travel on a double decker airplane seat

Jun 15, 2022, 1:27 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2022, 8:52 pm

(CNN) — Flying economy for any extended period of time is an experience usually endured rather than enjoyed, but one airplane seat designer reckons his design could revolutionize budget travel.

Alejandro Núñez Vicente’s Chaise Longue Airplane Seat concept started small scale last year, as a college project for the then 21-year-old. A nomination in the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards — a top prize in the aviation industry — swiftly followed, and the design became the focus of a flurry of online attention following a CNN Travel article.

Since then, Núñez Vicente’s been making waves in the world of aviation. He’s paused his master’s degree to pursue the project full time. He’s in talks with big-name airlines and seat manufacturing companies. He’s been granted some hefty investment that’s allowed the project to develop.

Here's what it might be like to travel on a double decker airplane seat. The Chaise Longue Airplane Seat is pictured here on display at AIX 2022 Hamburg. (Francesca Street/CNN) Alejandro Núñez Vicente's Chaise Longue Airplane Seat concept started small scale last year, as a college project for the then 21-year-old. A nomination in the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards swiftly followed. (Francesca Street/CNN)

But while some marvel at Núñez Vicente’s innovation, others recoil, concerned about claustrophobia and convinced sitting underneath someone else would be worse, not better, than the current airplane economy set-up.

“I grow more from listening to the critics and listening to the bad comments, than from listening to the good comments and the flowers that they throw me,” says Núñez Vicente, speaking to CNN Travel in Hamburg, Germany, where he’s showcasing his design at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).

His design is for the everyday traveler, so Núñez Vicente says he’s keen to hear what would-be fliers have to say, positive or negative.

“My purpose here is to change the economy class seats for the better of humanity, or for all the people that cannot afford to pay for more expensive tickets,” he says.

Núñez Vicente is set to receive even more feedback this week. AIX is one of the world’s biggest aviation shows, and he’s premiering the first full-scale prototype of his design.

CNN Travel stopped by to get a taste of what it might be like to fly on a double decker airplane seat.

Testing out the concept

First up, the top level. Núñez Vicente’s designed the prototype with two ladder-like steps for travelers to use to access the top level. It’s a little precarious, but once I’m up there, the seat feels roomy and comfortable, and there’s plenty of room for stretching out my legs. The prototype seats don’t move, but they’re each set up in a different positions to indicate how they could recline.

Núñez Vicente’s design does away with the overhead cabin. Instead, he’s designed space in between the top and bottom levels for travelers to stow cabin luggage.

In the vast, echoing halls of the Hamburg Messe conference center, it’s hard to imagine what it would actually be like to be that close to the cabin ceiling. Núñez Vicente reckons there would be about 1.5 meters separating the seated passenger from the top of the plane. He argues that while a traveler couldn’t stand upright in that space, many already can’t stand upright in regular economy rows — although, presumably, these taller travelers will be even more squished by this design.

Next up, trying the bottom row of seats. Núñez Vicente’s frustration with a lack of legroom was the original impetus for the design, and by not having a seat on the same level in front of me, it does allow me to stretch out my legs, and there’s a foot rest for added comfort.

Still, because the other level of seats are directly above me and in my eyeline, it feels pretty claustrophobic. But if you don’t mind tight spaces, and you’re planning simply to sleep all flight, it could be an effective solution.

Next steps

The Chaise Longue seat was initially envisaged for the Flying-V airplane, a new airplane concept currently in development at Delft University of Technology, Núñez Vicente’s alma mater.

Now, he reckons the design could be implemented in a Boeing 747, Airbus A330 or any other medium to large wide-body airplane.

Núñez Vicente is ambitious and confident his design could become a reality, but he also acknowledges that unusual airplane seat ideas don’t often make it from concept to reality. It’s a lengthy process, and the industry’s stringent rules and regulations can become roadblocks.

Plus, the airplane economy seat hasn’t really changed in decades, even if there have been many reimagined concepts floated by designers.

“One of the phrases I get a lot, is ‘If it’s not broken, why change it?'” admits Núñez Vicente. “So if passengers still fly in the worst economy class seats, why are we going to give them a better option? It makes money. That’s the goal of the airline at the end of the day, not to make your flight better.”

Still, the seat designer is already working on the next step in his process, to engineer the structure to be lighter than its current iteration.

He hopes to partner with an airline or a seat manufacturer to make that happen.

“Right now, we’re showing the market what we have. And we’re letting the market come and tell us what we need to do next,” he says.

Núñez Vicente might now be collaborating with industry experts with years of experience, but the project began in his bedroom in his parents’ house, and his family remain a big part of the process.

He’s at AIX with his parents in tow — they drove the Chaise Longue prototype in a van across Europe and helped him set up the seat in situ.

“Of course, at the beginning, no one expected this to get this big to the point where we are today. But they all knew that I was going to be able to do something,” says Núñez Vicente.

“If you asked me before, I would have said maybe it’s just a university project. If you asked me now, after all the hard [work], after all the effort of many, many people — I would say that now this is more of a reality. We see it as the future of the economy class.”


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A suspected Chinese high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Montana, on February 1. (Larry Maye...
Oren Liebermann, Haley Britzky, Michael Conte and Nectar Gan, CNN

Pentagon tracking suspected Chinese spy balloon over the US

The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon over the continental United States, defense officials said on Thursday.
10 hours ago
This booking image provided by the Chicago Police Department, shows Eva Bratcher, who has been accu...
Associated Press

Daughter charged after mom’s body found in Chicago freezer

A Chicago woman is accused of keeping her mother’s dead body in a freezer for nearly two years while living in a nearby apartment.
1 day ago
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) leaves her office at the Longworth House Office Building on February 02...
Kevin Freking and Lisa Mascaro

House GOP votes to oust Democrat Omar from major committee

House Republicans have voted to oust Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
1 day ago
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol on F...
Colleen Long and Chris Megerian, Associated Press

Biden urges unity at prayer breakfast under new management

President Joe Biden attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday in Washington and delivered a message of unity.
1 day ago
FILE: Groundhog handler AJ Derume holds Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow, predicting a late sp...
Associated Press

Phil’s Groundhog Day prediction: 6 more weeks of winter

A furry critter in a western Pennsylvania town has predicted six more weeks of winter during an annual Groundhog Day celebration.
1 day ago
Law enforcement officers aim their weapons at a home during a standoff in Grants Pass, Ore., on Tue...
Associated Press

Oregon kidnapping suspect dies of self-inflicted gunshot

The suspect in a violent kidnapping in Oregon has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Here’s what it might be like to travel on a double decker airplane seat