Well-known aviation design firm Zodiac Aerospace highlighted its creativity at the 2018 Crystal Cabin Awards with its Eco Zlounge concept. Allowing economy passengers to stretch their legs out in front for a more comfortable trip, the Zlounge was full of promise. Unfortunately, there’s quite a big catch to this idea.
Chasing comfort in economy
It’s always interesting to read about new business class products that allow passengers in the premium cabin to get more comfortable on their long flights. Sadly, for the 90% of us who will be stuck in the economy cabin, these seats are aspirational but not a realistic prospect without a lottery win.
Faced with a squeezy 31 inches of legroom for a several hours long flight, most economy fliers have come to the conclusion that they just have to grin and bear it. Either that, or limit their flights to just one a year in order to save up for the comfort of business or first.
So when a new concept rolls around that promises fabulous legroom and an inspired solution to getting comfy in economy, we sit up and take notice. Zodiac Aerospace presented just such an idea, something quite revolutionary, which made it to the final of the Crystal Cabin Awards in 2018.
However, there’s a catch, and quite a big one, which is likely why we’ve never seen this on an aircraft to date.
The Eco Zlounge
It might be a mouthful of a name, but the Eco Zlounge has some good thinking behind it. The product is a modification of a typical aircraft seat which turns an economy seat into a sort of bed. It’s not lie flat by any stretch of the imagination, but it does allow passengers to take the weight off their feet and stretch their legs out during the flight.
The product works by lowering a panel of the back of the seat in front. This opens access to a cubby hole where the passenger can rest their feet, and turns the seat back panel into a shelf to support the legs.
With great attention to detail, Zodiac even thought to provide a sort of ‘pocket’ for the feet. That’s genius, because who in the row in front would enjoy sitting next to a pair of sweaty traveler feet?
You’ve probably already noticed the slight problem with this design. While it’s an interesting concept, it is entirely reliant on the seat in front being vacant of any passenger. Right now, there’s a high probability that could be the case, but in normal times, airlines do their best to fill every seat.
Even if a flight is not full, having a benefit for passengers sitting behind an empty seat hardly feels fair to everyone else on the plane. This sort of thing could even encourage seat switching in the cabin when an empty space is spotted, and could even lead to disputes over who gets the feet up comfort seat onboard.
The problem of getting comfortable in economy remains open for a solution. While the Eco Zlounge presents an interesting idea for this issue, it’s not the perfect answer in practice.
What do you think airlines could do to make economy flying more comfortable? Let us know in the comments.