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Butterfly Design Aims to Re-Imagine Seat Configuration

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The game-changing Butterfly seat design has won IATA’s Passenger Innovation Award, but will it fly with airlines?

A first place prize was awarded to Paperclip Design’s Butterfly seat at this year’s first International Air Transport Association (IATA) Passenger Innovation Awards.

Convertible seating is not exactly a new concept, but elements of the Butterfly design offer a different take on the theme, including convertible seats with a customizable cabin space in a small footprint.

A Butterfly system can be configured for two passengers in premium-economy seats, for a single business-class seat, or for a private bed. The conversion is so simple and quick that it can be handled between legs of a flight, offering economy seats one-way, then switching to first class seating on the return leg. It’s essentially one seat, but offers three different cabins.

Airline strategist Nawal Taneja, who was one of the judges said,

It is worth looking into concepts that benefit customers and improve the customer experience—and airlines in terms of a potential for higher profitability. To me, the unknowns relate to the cost of the extra space, that is the space efficiency in the cabin, the amount that could be charged for the premium seat, and the potential for a higher load factor, if any. Also, while it is generally accepted that business-class travel provides higher levels of profitability, airlines need to consider: will this trend continue in the future when, finally, low-cost carriers [LCCs] break into the intercontinental market?

Thus far, no carriers have ordered Butterfly seats.

[Photo: Paperclip Design]

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