Zodiac Seats France has patented the “Economy Class Hexagon” aeroplane seating concept – which takes out the middle seat in the aisle and reverses it.
Wired has described the design as “the most nightmarish idea for plane seating ever“. We ask designers whether they agree, or if they think the hexagon seating idea might fly.
“Over the last few years, there has been a lot of experimentation with different types of layouts, as airlines and manufacturers try to marry seat count with efficiency.
The volume of coverage and number of comments that Zodiac Seats’ Hexagon concept has spurred shows just how passionate people are about travelling and issues around personal space. What interests me most in the concept is the innovation that it then fosters. I think it’s unlikely that an airline would implement it, but blue-sky ideas like these are essential as catalysts for further innovation in our industry.”
“Passenger desire for cheaper fares continues to drive the industry to find solutions that marry increased density with acceptable experience. Zodiac Seats’ Hexagon introduces some interesting ideas, but obviously presents numerous challenges, privacy being the most obvious.
When tangerine designed BA’s Club World seat in 1998, people jumped to conclusions about flying backwards. But the tangible benefits brought by the world’s first lie-flat bed in business class changed the industry.
It’s much easier to tear down an idea than find workable solutions to such constraining problems. You need to experience and refine such ideas before you fully appreciate the value they bring.”
“Apart from the most obvious flaws – how to get in and out, where to rest a beer when you’re weary after a business trip, and what to do with your book or laptop – the most personal one is that you end up staring at a stranger in close range for potentially hours. BA business class got around this principle in its face-to-face seating layout, courtesy of the space and the retractable vanity screen. There is however two markets for who this seating might apply – 18 to 30s holiday charters or ‘Swingers Air’. Perhaps it might work after all.”
“The numbers quest in economy means companies and airlines are on the hunt for configurations that will, ultimately, all have an effect on customer experience.
Really all they are doing here is protecting the principal of the layout at its most basic. With clever and considered design detailing, some of the problem issues mentioned can be improved – but the layout will, inevitably, always have personal space issues.
On paper, the configuration would actually work – I have seen similar before. But when you try and get more people in the same space, the experience becomes fairly intense!
Many airlines will look at it with scepticism – but maybe budget carriers will see it as a way to offer cheaper seats. If passengers want to continue flying cheaply, then companies need to keep investigating such options. Then it is up to us to choose…”