The Future Of Business Class? This Seat Can Be A Standing Desk

For many passengers flying in business class, they are, in fact, on a business trip. This may mean there is important work to be done, and those precious hours spent on a plane could be put to good use. Recognizing that not all business class products are conducive to getting business done, a team from TU Delft came up with a concept that ticks all the boxes.

Stratus seat
The Stratus seat combines business class comfort with an office-like environment. Photo: TU Delft

Is business class good for business?

The business class cabin has a lot to deliver to its passengers. Those paying a premium to fly at the pointy end of the plane expect not only excellence in terms of food and service, but also a comfortable place to sit and sleep. While some will fly in business for their leisure trip, many will actually be on business, and therefore need somewhere to work as well as everything else.

Cabin designers are always trying to find the sweet spot between a place that is luxurious and comfortable, and one which is conducive to getting business done. While some have made a good attempt, such as Virgin Atlantic’s A350 business class, which features a huge tray table and plenty of power outlets, it’s always something of a compromise, with the balance usually shifting in favor of luxurious comfort.

Virgin Atlantic A350-1000 Upper Class
The A350 offers Virgin’s latest cabin products, including a redesigned business class cabin. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

But a cabin concept developed by TU Delft in partnership with Safran Seats aims to swing the pendulum the other way. The Stratus seat combines a suitable place to sit and sleep with a design that is tailored towards the working traveler, even including a standing desk!

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Two new positions

Shortlisted for the Crystal Cabin Awards in 2019, the Stratus seat does everything a business class seat needs to do. It sits up in a manner that will keep passengers safe for taxi, takeoff and landing, and it lies completely flat for a good, comfortable sleep.

The clever part is in the in-between stages, where passengers can enjoy a much more office-like environment during their flight. A clever docking station for devices and an adaptive table allow passengers to choose between two new positions, both designed to encourage comfortable working and a new take on doing business in the sky.

The first position is the ‘zero gravity’ position. This allows the user to ergonomically tilt the workstation and seat for the most comfortable working position possible. While the seat is reclined, it remains in a sitting position, giving the passenger relief from muscle fatigue and promoting good blood flow.

Stratus seat
Would this ‘work’ for you? Photo: TU Delft

The second position is something plenty of homeworkers will be familiar with. The standing desk has become a popular choice of working position, with many finding it improves focus and concentration. With this in mind, the seat has been designed to fold up completely vertically, creating standing room in the space, while the adaptive desk rises up to become a standing workstation.

Gathering feedback

The designers, a team from TU Delft, took feedback from passengers passing through Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to understand their pain points when flying business class. Clément Heinen, industrial designer, told APEX,

“After interviewing people who traveled for work, we found that although there’s plenty of time on long-haul flights, the context isn’t always suitable for working. We tried to give business travelers the peace of mind that comes from knowing they’ll be able to get work done and arrive at their destination feeling well-prepared.”

Would you like to work on a flight that had a seat like this? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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