The Flex-Seat offers even Economy Class fliers the chance of a good night's sleep


December 7, 2009

Jacob Innovations has devised a conceptual airline seat that gives every flier a better chance of a good sleep on a long haul flight

Jacob Innovations has devised a conceptual airline seat that gives every flier a better chance of a good sleep on a long haul flight

Image Gallery (10 images)

Apart from adding tiny LCD screens to the headrests in airplanes, not much has changed in seating comfort in the airline industry for many years, though a couple of ideas have appeared but are yet to bear fruit. Now, with the advent of A380s and the retention of bulk people carriers like 747s, long haul flight prices might have dropped but they’re still tortuous for ‘cattle class’ fliers subjected to endless hours of boredom and contortionist-like sleeping conditions. But Jacob Innovations has developed the conceptual Flex-Seat, which can be configured in a number of ways to make the most of the vertical space often wasted inside airline cabins and putting the possibility of a good night’s sleep (or rest) within reach of most fliers.

As you will see in the accompanying illustrations, Jacob Innovations has deployed the use of double-bunks and a type of mezzanine level to gain the most space and improve comfort levels, as well as an almost zigzag split level economy section. The company says that configurations like this can save airlines time and money serving meals and stowing on-board luggage.

And while the wealthy flier gets even more comfort but uses less space, the budget flier gets much more leg room and a much more enjoyable seating or resting position.

The Flex-Seat concept

The Flex-Seat is a unique flexible seating configuration that can be utilized differently for each class of flier. While some business class passengers might feel that they are perched precariously in their seats, their Flex-Seat model allows them to lie in comfort and virtual solitude, which offers a much greater chance of restful sleep on long flights than current seating arrangements.

Other benefits over current business class sections include increased privacy (good for traveling professionals), allows for travel with infants, and has extra room for large carry-on luggage and bulky items. Passengers and luggage are stored away from the aisles, allowing better traffic flow while loading and unloading passengers. Also, these seats don’t need reclining mechanisms, as the diagram shows.

Jacob Innovations say this Flex-Seat configuration can increase the density of a conventional business class by up to 50 percent, while providing full reclining. With clever configuration and mobility, Flex-Seats can even be sold “on-demand” by airlines.

Economy Flex

In the basic traveler’s section, every other seat is raised by a height of approximately two steps, which lets the passenger behind recline and slide their legs fully under the seat ahead, therefore allowing for a totally reclining flight or, even better, sleep. The makers say the economy version would cost around 20 percent more than current prices but the offer of a 45° or better angle allows for a great chance of sleep versus sleep deprivation, meaning workers arrive at their destination ready to go.

Jacob Innovations' claim that airlines will save on food and beverages because most passengers on night flights will choose to sleep, rather than stay awake and consume that delightful airline food, could be a little optimistic though. One definite advantage is that even the upper deck of a 747 can be reconfigured to fit more people in comfort than traditional conventional seating, with longer beds up to 2m in length.

We can’t wait to see which, if any, airline is willing to take a leap of faith and fit out their aircraft first.



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The lower seats would be a nightmare for claustrophobic passengers.


Total nonsense. This would never work in the real world. The drawings show far too much open space between seats that is completely unrealistic. Half the baggage compartments are gone, and on most flights what runs out first is baggage space not seats.

Three seats across is nowhere near long enough for a person to lie down and sleep the way shown in the drawings. Maybe in the fetal position...

The people on the lower rows would feel trapped in a box and in some configurations the upright of the seat can not lean back on the bottom row while the top row people CAN lean their seat back.

Also the stairs up to the top seats block the second seat on the bottom, and in the real world, it would also eat up the \"floor\" of one of the seats of the top row. Stairs would not work, only a ladder.


I love the huge amount of leg room that is depected in image 10. Most airlines offer you 27 inches of legroom. If you want more, you pay for\'s called Economy Plus in most cases. To give you an idea, the leg room is so small, if you drop something on the floor in flight, it\'s gone for good because you cannot bend over to pick it up! Ed web/gadget guru


I have thought about this kind of thing myself ever since reading about all the wasted space above the cabin in some widebodies. I reckon that the volume is there and that a safe, convertible seat that weighs the same as a normal seat could allow everyone to lie flat. Maybe more flights would happen at night if some sleep was likely on long haul flights?


The real problem here is that when lying down with your jacket on, it will get seriously creased. You can see this clearly in Image 8.


I think about this every time I fly. Can we just set the bottom line here for what is definitely possible. 1. Above all else, I would like to lie down and sleep on a long flight. I don\'t mind if I can\'t even see an LCD or eat. As long as I can get to the loo and have a proper escape route, then its ok. 2. A human body does not increase in volume between sitting and lying down. Therefore, if humans can sit in that space, then by a re-arrangement, the same number of humans should be able to lie in that space. 3. We do not need a window, we will be sleeping or listening to music. The only required piped services are fresh air, electric light and info channels (a few wires). These can be provided in what is effectively a stack of piped \'coffins\' (not the name to advertise with). 4. Some people will hate this idea. They should have normal seats. 5. Some people, far from being claustrophobic, like enclosed spaces. They will luxuriate in total privacy and a deep sleep, for the price of an economy fare.

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