COVID-19: Tigerair Taiwan Launches Physical Middle Seat Dividers

Asian budget airline Tigerair Taiwan has become one of the first airlines to install middle seat dividers throughout all rows. Dubbed ‘Tiger Plus,’ this feature was announced on November 10th and will be present for all aircraft operating international services.

Tigerair Taiwan operates an all-Airbus A320 fleet. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Flickr 

Detachable partitions

In an effort to provide customers with further peace of mind and combat the possible spread of viral infection, Tigerair Taiwan is installing physical seat dividers on its fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft. We normally only see seat dividers and privacy screens in long-haul business class, but this feature will be rolled out across Tigerair Taiwan’s single-class budget cabin.

The new seating feature was announced via a new product launch event earlier in the week.

“The newly-launched Tiger Seat is the middle seat of the 3-3 rows of seats of the A320 passenger aircraft. The original three seats are adjusted by placing specially developed and designed detachable spacers as partitions…In addition to sitting comfortably and spaciously, it can also greatly avoid conflicts during the epidemic prevention period. [Preventing] Contact with the limbs of neighboring passengers reduces the chance of infection.” -Tigerair Taiwan press release via CAPA

The airline’s press release goes on to say that the standard width of each seat of Tigerair Taiwan’s cabin is 21 inches (approximately 53 cm), while the seat depth is 16 inches (approximately 41 cm).

Work on this began early

The airline’s press release also notes that during the beginning of the epidemic, the design of the feature had been underway. In fact, the concept was based on the design research proposed by foreign aviation experts in response to the post-epidemic era.

seat divider
Creative design agency Factorydesign had drafted a similar seating concept as well. Photo: Factorydesign

The person-to-person divider is designed with aviation-certified materials and meets the aircraft cabin interior specifications, and passed the initial airworthiness certification requirements of the Civil Aviation Administration of Taiwan.

Is this just the beginning?

We’ve discussed pandemic seating innovations in previous articles, but up until now, few airlines, if any, have actually moved forward with the investment of new seating. Indeed, it is a huge investment for any carrier, which requires funding (which is in short supply), and certification by respective civil aviation authorities.

Up until now, airlines have been relying on mandatory-mask-wearing and advanced air filtration systems to reassure passengers that air travel is safe. Many airlines also blocked the middle seat, choosing instead to fly at less than full capacity. However, it’s been made obvious that middle-seat-blocking can’t go on forever and is financially unsustainable. Installing a physical divider is indeed a compromise to having an empty middle seat.

Tigerair Taiwan mainly operates out of Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. Photo: Minyen Hseieh via Wikimedia Commons 

It will be interesting to see if any other airlines jump on this bandwagon as well now that Tigerair Taiwan has officially announced the adoption of middle seat dividers.

Do you think we’ll see more airlines install physical dividers in aircraft? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.