The divide between economy and premium aircraft seating is widening. As space becomes more premium and new technologies emerge Acumen Design Associates share a civilized vision of the future for economy passengers with The Economist:
By coincidence, this morning Gulliver met with Acumen Design Associates, the firm behind Etihad’s “residences”. These three-room suites for the super-rich, which can be found at the front of the carrier’s A380s and come complete with a butler, look like they may redefine what airlines think of as first class. As business class gets plusher, with lie-flat seats becoming standard, old-fashioned first-class cabins are being phased out. After all, why pay more unless the service is significantly better? Indeed Acumen reckons that super business-class, as it is called, now accounts for a third of seat manufacturers’ revenue. So the only way for carriers to differentiate themselves at the highest end is by providing ever-greater opulence.But what, then, does the future really hold for cattle class? The firm is also working on designs for back half of the cabin. One such has adjacent seats that alternately face forward and backward (Freedom). This, in theory at least, means that two passengers can share an arm rest without coming into contact with one another. It also allows elongated headrests to make sleeping easier. (Travelling when facing backwards on a plane is not the same nauseating experience it can be in a car or train because, other than at take-off and landing, there is little sensation of moving in a particular direction while in the air.) Nonetheless, because carriers could fit an extra seat into the space the design saves, it has been derided as just another way for carriers to squeeze a few more sardines into the can.