One Seat – Three Cabins: The Future Of Long-Haul Narrowbody

Airliners are expensive to fit out, and reconfiguring the balance of economy and premium seating is a costly proposition. To keep up with the trends, airlines have to try to predict the future. But what if one seat could be all things to all people? LIFT Aero Design’s PARADYM concept does just that.

The PARADYM concept brings true flexibility to the aircraft cabin. Photo: LIFT Aero Design

A seat for every class

For as long as there have been separate classes in aircraft cabins, airlines and lessors have been doing a fine balancing act. Predicting demand for first, business, premium economy and economy requires a fairly robust crystal ball, but it’s a decision that often needs to be made very early in the sales process.

Take into account the fact that many aircraft are ordered years in advance, and most will spend at least a decade in service, and you can see that these buyers have a tough job on their hands to forecast the passenger trends of the future.

But what if you had a seat that could be sold as multiple classes all in one package? LIFT Aero Design has come up with just such a concept, which would allow airlines to reconfigure their class split right up to the point of boarding at the gate. It calls this concept PARADYM.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Wider aircraft

LIFT envisions a future where aircraft cabins have grown to meet the changing needs of today’s long-haul flier. Although more of us will fly long-haul on single-aisle aircraft, the company believes that the narrowbody will become a little bit less narrow.

PARADYM relies on the extra width of the cabin of the future to engineer a seat that can fulfill the needs of all classes of travelers, whether they’re after a comfortable budget ticket, a more premium experience, or lie flat comfort. It’s not a top-of-the-range business class product, of course, but it does have the potential to allow passengers a comfortable sleep on those longer flights.

Passengers get their own armrest. Photo: LIFT Aero Design

For regular economy operations, the cabin is arranged in a typical 3-3 layout. However, this is next-generation economy, and gives passengers a huge 20 inches (51 cm) between armrests. The armrests themselves are ergonomically curved, and there are two between each seat. That means no more armrest wars for the middle seat passenger.

For a premium economy experience, the airline has the option to block the middle seat and raise the first armrest for the window and aisle passengers. The passenger gets more space, more privacy and more width, and the airline can make this decision at any point in the process.


With the armrests raised and the cushion elevated, a large sleeping area is formed. Photo: LIFT Aero Design

The final configuration gives passengers a large sleeping area as the whole block of three would be sold to one person. The front of the seat cushion can be raised up, as can all the armrests, giving a sleeping space of five feet nine inches long (1.75 m). It’s not business class, but it could be sold as premium economy flat or perhaps business class lite.

In all configurations, LIFT has paid attention to detail. The seat cushions are curved so as not to press into the back of the knee, and a cocoon-like headrest provides support and privacy. The off-center split allows passengers to raise or lower the headrest to their optimal position and needs.

Movable headrests add comfort and privacy. Photo: LIFT Aero Design

While the LIFT concept is reliant on a completely new aircraft type rolling around, it’s a very interesting proposition. For airlines to be able to sell any position as economy or something more comfortable gives them a huge amount of flexibility, something that is likely to be highly appealing to low-cost and hybrid carriers.

A global tour

To further promote the product, LIFT is planning a world ‘tour’, but without leaving Tokyo! Rather than taking the product around the world, the company is bringing the world to its product, with a series of geographically inspired headrest designs celebrating their favorite places it calls PARADYM World Colors.

The World Colors tour highlights the importance of material and finish in branding aircraft seats. Photo: LIFT Aero Design

LIFT’s first destination is Tokyo, where its managing director Daniel Baron lives. He told Simple Flying,

“Many people know how much I love this city. Vast, eclectic, and ever evolving, Tokyo is metropolis meets village, urban sprawl meets sublime detail. It’s a delicious blend of future and tradition, fast and slow, cacophony and calm.”

The headrest design echoes the busy maps of Tokyo’s streets. Photo: LIFT Aero Design

The headrests are designed to be produced on printed leather, and the lines represent the intricate maps of the city streets that are essential for navigating the Japanese metropolis. As well as being rather beautiful, LIFT’s design aims to demonstrate just how well seat trim and finish can shape brand differentiation.

What do you think of PARADYM? Let us know in the comments.