These days, airlines and aeroplane makers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to cram more people into planes. Recently, the European Patent Office published an application by Romain Chareyre of Zodiac Seats France for a hexagonal economy class seat.
According to Zodiac, the now-patented design — called HD31 — offers passengers four more inches of legroom along with a 15% boost in space between seats. HD31 is designed for operators of single-aisle airliners, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
The new Zodiac design takes the industry standard six-abreast seating configuration and stretches it to seven. In the process, the company claims it can squeeze as many as 30 extra seats into a plane. To achieve this, HD31 reverses at least one seat in each row to create a hexagonal honeycomb look that affords each passenger extra room. To make getting in and out each row easier, the seats fold up, movie-theatre style, when not in use.
Passengers will certainly enjoy some of the extras HD31 has to offer. Sure, any extra space in a cramped coach cabin is always welcome, while a permanent ceasefire in the battle for armrest space is something that everybody wants.
However, these improvements come at a price. In this case, at least one passenger per row will be seated backwards and forced gaze awkwardly at his or her seatmates. In addition, unless you work for Cirque du Soleil, getting up to go to the bathroom will require a feat of agility.
It’s unclear whether Zodiac has found any customers for the design. According to the company’s website, HD31 is considered an “exploratory concept.”