Double-Decker Airplane Cabins Might Be the Future of Air Travel

Air travel could see some major changes in the not-so-distant future, including multi-level cabins.

Courtesy of Crystal Cabin Awards

Air travel has evolved a lot since the days of Lewis and Clark, but one thing remains constant: Uncomfortably cramped quarters. However, plane designers have been hard at work trying to change this without having to cut the number of passengers a plane can fit (aka profit for airlines).

Plane designers have toyed with several different seating concepts, including stand-up seats, but it’s multi-level airplane cabins that are really catching on lately: Zephyr introduced such double-decker lie-flat seats last year, which quickly went viral. 

At this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, which judges aircraft interior innovation, a similar dual-level cabin was introduced, called the Chaise Longue Economy Seat Project. It was designed by 21-year-old Alejandro Nuñez Vicente, a Spanish native who’s studying at TU Delft University in the Netherlands.

His concept differed from other multi-level cabin ideas in that it suggested alternating each row of seats between on-floor seating and elevated seating, getting rid of overhead bins to make more space, instead storing carry-ons under seats. He told CNN Travel that he believed doing so would increase leg room.

“The lower row has the advantage of passengers having the lounge experience of a couch by stretching the legs, whilst the upper row provides an SUV experience, making it possible for instance to cross the legs due to the increased leg room and overall living space,” he said.

Vicente’s design wouldn’t just give people more leg room and more room to move about the aisles, it would also allow for more space to recline, without worrying about lying in another passenger’s lap behind you, or getting kicked in the back the whole flight.

Right now, Vicente’s concept is just that: A concept. However, he’s working with a few professors from TU Delft to present his idea to airlines and get the ball rolling, meaning there’s a very real possibility you may see double-decker airline cabins before long.

“At the moment, this is an internal student-led university project that still hasn’t been formally presented to airlines. However, some companies in the aerospace sector have already shown interest in the Chaise Lounge Economy Seat project, presenting possible chances for future collaborations,” he said.

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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it—find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.