An Italian airplane interiors company has a new design suggestion for economy class seats

·3-min read

Could this change the way we travel forever?

You’ve probably seen these designs. Every media publication worth its salt has featured Janus, the Economy Class seat layout named after the two-faced Roman god. Almost all of them ask the question that we’ve thought about: is this the economy class of the future?

The Janus takes its name seriously. Sticking to the three-seat-per-row format, Janus turns the middle seat face backwards thus creating a honeycomb structure of sorts.

Designed by the airline interiors company Aviointeriors, the Janus also comes with a transparent material casing that hugs the seat.

An alternative option to the honeycomb-like structure is the regular seating plan, with the transparent partitions called ‘Glassafe’ dividing the three seats approximately chest upwards.

Aviointeriors calls this “a kit-level solution that can be installed on existing seats to make close proximity safer among passengers sharing the same seat.”

It is understandable why the design received so much attention – it appeals to current impulses – but does it really provide a real solution?

Experts are sceptical. Will Horton, who covers aerospace and defence points out in a Forbes piece: “Germs can move over and under the barriers.”

Horton also points out that the airflow on an aircraft is vertical and not, as is common in most air conditioned spaces, horizontal thus reducing the number of people with whom it comes in contact.

It’s also common knowledge, and that fact had been hammered into us several times in the early days of the outbreak when airlines were still flying, that airline cabins tend to be far more sterile than you may give them credit.

But that doesn’t even begin to spell out the extent of the problems with Janus.

The Glassafe may not be all that safe when you think of an emergency evacuation when the partitions may well hinder the smooth movement of passengers. There’s also the matter of the durability of the partition.

Could it stand the G-force of a plane while still being lightweight? And that’s the other problem.

Even if Glassafe does pass all the security protocols, adding hoods and glass partitions on every single seat is going to do the one thing that all manufacturers hate – add weight to the aircraft.

Aviointeriors is a relatively small vendor in the airline business and has, typically, come into the limelight for offering what some may call ‘out of the box solutions’.

This was the company that had proposed saddle-style ‘standing’ seats back in 2010 to airlines looking to increase the number of passengers. Needless to say the stunt earned them a lot of publicity. What it didn’t earn them was even a single order.

So, to answer the question posed right at the beginning of this article: there are a lot of things that will change the way we travel, Janus is likely not going to be one of them. There’s also a decent chance that it won’t make it to the market either; and you don’t have to be an expert to come to that conclusion.