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These New Economy Seat Concepts Are Getting Interesting

Zephyr Double Decker Seats

Flying coach on long-haul flights is miserable. Being stuck in a cramped seat with no ability to stretch out makes it near impossible to get rest before touching down in a new time zone. Although this has become a common frustration of travel, some companies are making an effort to introduce more comfortable alternatives to the economy seat, such as Air New Zealand’s Economy Skynest and newcomer Zephyr.

Zephyr Lie Flat Bed 2

What is Zephyr?

Invented by Jeff O’Neill, Zephyr is a double-decker premium economy seat meant for wide-body jets. Mr. O’Neill’s concept is simple – create a better all-around product for customers without hurting the airline’s bottom line, which is exactly what he believes the Zephyr seat will do.

Intro to Zephyr Seat from jeff oneill on Vimeo.

He said, “We should not be having these ridiculous discussions about asking permission to recline a seat or get to the bathroom. Why are we even giving airlines the option to tell us how we can and cannot travel? Privacy should be accessible and affordable, and [airlines] should improve their customers’ in-flight experience.”

Zephyr Lie Flat Bed

The seat is staggered in a 1-2-1 configuration, offering aisle access each and more privacy than today’s premium seats. It has a fixed recline and relies on a zero-gravity design to keep travelers comfortable. It also includes a cubby for personal items, an inflight entertainment screen, charging ports, and a large armrest.

Privacy and increased comfort is only the start of the Zephyr design. What makes it interesting is its ability to convert into a lie-flat bed. Although the seat itself does not lie flat, it has a cushion that connects two padded sections of the space to create an angled bed. It may not be business class luxury, but Mr. O’Neill believes it will still be favored oversleeping upright for 12 hours in today’s premium economy.

Zephyr Double Decker Seats 2

Will Airlines Buy It?

Mr. O’Neill says that because the seats are stacked, airlines will not forfeit capacity. The same number of seats in today’s wide-body cabins can be accommodated using Zephyr, so it should not impact an airline’s bottom line. Mr. O’Neill explained, “The best part of this seat: it has NO heavy mechanical/electronic components. The entire seat has only 2 moving pieces inside, so the weight and direct maintenance costs for the airline are significantly reduced! Using advanced composite materials, we can build this seat at less than 50kg per unit.”

Zephyr Lie Flat Bed 3

What do you think about Jeff O’Neill’s design? Let us know in the comments!

ruffio1 March 4, 2020

where do people put their 4 cabin bags they have hahaha. there you go nan just up that ladder. ridiculous

scnzzz March 3, 2020

This is a premium economy concept, not regular coach. Even on A380s the premium economy cabin is no more than 8 across, so this actually does work from the perspective of density. No chance this will make it to coach. But yeah, the company needs to address storage, F&B and evacuation. Airlines can block lower level seats for ppl with limited mobility. In terms of weight I wonder what the benchmark is for premium economy seats. It's not 7-8kg - that's the cheap slimline coach seat...but 50kg seems a bit much.

IBobi March 2, 2020

I actually LOLed when I saw the photo with the guy "sleeping" around the corner in that "seat." Ahahahaha.

DCAFly March 2, 2020

Love it. Who cares if the "lie down" seat isn't as comfy as biz. It's better than between squashed into the middle seat for 10 hours. I don't quite understand how they make the claim about not losing capacity. Aren't most widebodies now carrying 9 or 10 across? If this has a 1-2-1 configuration, that's 8 across. In any event, I would definitely pay a premium for this. Probably would pay more for this than a premium economy seat.

jahason March 2, 2020

Can have bins on the side of each seat instead of overhead. Great idea.