Could Future Economy Class Cabins Have Glass Hygiene Screens?

An Italian aviation design firm has unveiled a new product that could change the face of economy class travel. With airlines looking to safeguard passengers when demand returns, many are considering how social distancing could be maintained on a plane. Aviointeriors has developed a concept solution; a hygienic screen to cocoon passengers and keep them separate from their neighbors. Let’s take a look at Glassafe, a potential post-COVID-19 economy cabin modification.

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Could glass hygiene screens be the solution to in flight social distancing? Photo: Aviointeriors

Social distancing in flight

One of the biggest challenges facing airlines today is how to return flying to the masses, without breaking social distancing rules. Some are considering blocking middle seats in a bid to distance passengers, while others are testing every passenger for COVID-19 before allowing them to board.

Neither of these solutions is without its drawbacks. Blocking middle seats would cut airline fare revenue by a third, a consequence of which would likely be increased fares for the rest of us. Testing every passenger is workable for now, but its unlikely airlines will be able to manage 100% testing rates when demand begins to come back.

Italian firm Aviointeriors believes it has a more effective solution. Its newly announced Glassafe product is designed to shield passengers from their neighbors and those passing through the aisle by cocooning each one in a plastic shield. It sounds awful, but in practice, it actually looks rather nice.

GLASSAFE Aviointeriors
Glasssafe is easily retrofitted to existing aircraft seats. Photo: Aviointeriors

How does Glassafe work?

Glassafe is manufactured from transparent material, allowing light to pass through and keep the cabin bright and fresh. It is described by the company as a ‘kit level solution,’ meaning it is easily installed on existing cabin seats without any expensive modifications. It effectively creates a barrier around each passenger, in a bid to reduce the risk of transmission of things like the coronavirus.

In a statement about its new product concept, Aviointeriors said,

“Glassafe [creates] an isolated volume around the passenger in order to avoid or minimize contacts and interactions via air between passenger and passenger, so as to reduce the probability of contamination by viruses or other.”

GLASSAFE Aviointeriors
The product could allow airlines to sell more seats on flights while still safeguarding passengers. Photo: Aviointeriors

The product has been shaped to allow passengers freedom of movement within their seats and to give them access to things like seat pockets, IFE, and tray tables. The company is hoping to be able to supply the products in a range of finishes, with varying degrees of opacity, to suit individual airline needs.

Although this is just a concept right now, Aviointeriors has already patented this product and says it is ready to go into production. On paper, it looks like a superb solution to a global problem, easily retrofitted to existing planes and allowing airlines to fill their cabins safely. However, it will require regulators to be on board before this ever makes it onto an aircraft.

Would you feel more confident traveling behind a Glassafe panel? Let us know what you think of this new product in the comments.