Fully Flat Beds In Economy Class? This Company Has The Answer

Most of us like to catch a nap mid-flight, and for those of us traveling long haul, a bit of sleep is a must. However, unless you can afford the expense of traveling in the pointy end and thereby acquiring a lovely lie-flat seat, the ability to get comfortable can be a challenge.

But one innovation could be about to change all that. The Delft University of Technology has been shortlisted for the Crystal Cabin Awards for its economy flat bed concept.

TU Delft_Collapsible Beds
The collapsible bed could give passengers a lie flat experience in economy. Photo: TU Delft

A bed in economy

The designers have come up with an economy class lie flat bed that looks to have a generous length. The beauty of these beds is that they can be converted to an upright seating position for three people, thereby ensuring safety during taxi, takeoff and landing.

Seated Group seats
Passengers will be able to sit upright during critical periods. Photo: TU Delft

The way it works is by allowing the middle bed to slide up to the top, while the bottom bed folds in half to provide seating for the passengers. This way, all three passengers can enjoy lie flat comfort during the cruise portion of the flight.

Bed Sleeping view
The pods will be designed to give passengers a sense of space. Photo: TU Delft

The company says that, despite how they look, all the beds will be designed to provide a sense of space and to be very comfortable for the user. Inside will be infotainment screens, charging points for electronics, a tray table and an inflatable backrest for sitting more upright.

Although some passengers might have reservations about climbing a ladder on board a plane, TU Delft says that it has explored this in depth. Tests with subjects have shown that even the elderly can manage to climb inside the beds, as long as they go in head first.

Picture of Mock-Up
TU Delft has tried out a life size mock up with passengers. Photo: TU Delft

Originally designed for the concept aircraft the Flying V, Delft came up with the idea for these seats during the course of its development, and first revealed their innovation during the KLM 100 years anniversary event.

Not the only solution

The collapsible bed is not the only innovation presented by TU Delft for the Crystal Cabin Awards. The company has also brought to the table its Eco Sleep product, which comes with a similar concept but delivered in a different way.

Eco sleep
Eco sleep has a similar concept. Photo: TU Delft

This solution uses the sidewalls of the aircraft to install beds for three people to lie flat during the cruise. During taxi, takeoff and landing, the bottom and middle bunk become aisle facing seats for passengers. The company says that although it changes the aircraft layout, passenger capacity would actually increase with this product on board.

Eco sleep
The three passengers would face the aisle when seated. Photo: TU Delft

The final product from TU Delft is the Chaise Longue concept. This is a little more challenging for us, as passengers, to get our heads around, as it involves one passenger being suspended above another! By hanging the top seats from the ceiling, Delft says that “two rows of seats take up the same floor space of 62” (2x 31” pitch) but with more freedom of movement”.

Chaise Longue
Chaise Longue is a bit of a challenging design. Photo: TU Delft

The company claims that being able to change position more frequently and to move around more, we’ll experience less discomfort on long flights. They say this is also healthier for passengers compared to sitting in one position for extended periods.

Chaise Longue
TU Delft says the same number of passengers can be accommodated with this design. Photo: TU Delft

What do you think of these economy seat concepts? Would you use them? Let us know in the comments.