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NIGHTMARE Double Decker Airplane Seats! Would You Fly Double Decker?

Traveling in economy class for any extended period of time is an experience that is typically endured rather than savored, but one airplane seat designer has high hopes that his revolutionary design will completely transform the way we travel when on a budget.

Last year, Alejandro Núñez Vicente’s Chaise Longue Airplane Seat concept began on a small scale as a college project for the then 21-year-old.

This innovative design has since been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the aviation industry – the 2021 Crystal Cabin Awards – marking an incredible achievement for this young designer.

Since then, Núñez Vicente has been making a strong impact in the realm of aviation. He decided to put his master’s degree on hold while he devoted himself full-time to this undertaking.

He has entered into negotiations with prominent airlines and companies that manufacture plane seats. Furthermore, he was able to secure substantial investment which has allowed the project to progress further.

Many are amazed at the creativity of Núñez Vicente’s idea, while others feel uneasy about it as they worry about potentially feeling confined and think that being seated beneath another person would be even more uncomfortable than what is already experienced in a normal economy class.

They believe the current airplane economy design is far superior to this proposed one.

“I grow more from listening to the critics and listening to the bad comments, than from listening to the good comments and the flowers that they throw me,” says Núñez Vicente, speaking to CNN Travel in Hamburg, Germany, where he’s showcasing his design at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).

Núñez Vicente has designed his creation with the average traveller in mind, and is eager to receive any feedback from those that would potentially use it – whether its praise or criticism.

He is open to hearing what people have to say about it, regardless of the opinion expressed.

“My purpose here is to change the economy class seats for the better of humanity, or for all the people that cannot afford to pay for more expensive tickets,” he says.

Núñez Vicente is set to experience a surge of attention this week at the renowned AIX aviation event, where he will be unveiling the very first full-scale prototype of his design.

As one of the biggest events in the aviation industry, Núñez Vicente’s debut promises to be an exciting moment and will likely result in even more feedback from those within the field.

Testing out the concept

To begin with, Núñez Vicente crafted a concept that included two stair-like steps for passengers to reach the highest level.

This can be a bit awkward to maneuver but once I’m securely at my seat, the area feels spacious and cozy; there’s even an abundant amount room for me to extend my legs out freely.

The prototype seats are not adjustable, but each one has been strategically positioned to demonstrate the potential for reclining.

Núñez Vicente’s innovative concept eliminates the need for an overhead cabin, instead creating a space between the upper and lower levels in which passengers can store their hand luggage.

This ingenious design allows them to make use of previously unused space while still providing sufficient room for travelers’ belongings.

In the expansive, resonating halls of the Hamburg Messe conference center, one can hardly conceive of what it would truly feel like to be situated so close to the aircraft cabin ceiling.

According to Núñez Vicente’s estimation, a seated passenger would only have approximately 1.5 meters of airspace between them and the uppermost part of the plane.

He argues that even though a traveler would not be able to stand in such a small space, there are already many passengers who struggle for comfort due to the limited space of regular economy rows.

Consequently, these travelers with greater height may find themselves even more uncomfortable in such an environment. The next proposed design is attempting to address this issue by creating seating in the bottom row.

Núñez Vicente’s deep-seated frustration with the lack of sufficient space for his legs was the motivating factor behind the design; by not having a seat directly in front of him, he is able to extend and relax his legs, while also being provided with an extra foot rest for added comfort.

Despite this, I still find the experience of sitting in such close proximity to those at a higher level extremely claustrophobic; with the added disadvantage that their seats are directly above me and my view is constantly obstructed.

Consequently, it can be quite an uncomfortable and even intimidating situation, yet if you don’t mind feeling slightly cramped and plan to just sleep throughout your flight, then this option could be viable.

Next Steps

The Chaise Longue seat was initially conceived for the Flying-V airplane, a revolutionary and ambitious new aircraft concept currently under development at Delft University of Technology – the alma mater of its designer, Núñez Vicente.

The innovative design is being actively pursued by researchers at the university in an effort to create a more efficient and comfortable form of air travel.

Now, he believes that the design could be successfully implemented in a Boeing 747, an Airbus A330 or any other type of medium to large wide-body aircraft. This is due to its versatility and adaptability, making it suitable for all kinds of airplanes within this size range.

Núñez Vicente is ambitious and confident that his design could become a reality, yet he is also aware of the fact that it is not always easy for unusual airplane seat ideas to progress from concept to fruition.

The process usually takes a considerable amount of time and there are often several regulatory obstacles which need to be overcome before anything can be implemented in the aviation industry.

In addition, the airplane economy seat has remained virtually unchanged for many years, despite the fact that various innovative designs and ideas have been proposed by creative minds.

Even though these concepts have been imagined, they are yet to be implemented or adopted into actual airplanes.

“One of the phrases I get a lot, is ‘If it’s not broken, why change it?’” admits Núñez Vicente. “So if passengers still fly in the worst economy class seats, why are we going to give them a better option? It makes money. That’s the goal of the airline at the end of the day, not to make your flight better.”

Despite the success of his seat design, the seat designer is continuing to strive for improvement. He is currently in the process of engineering a structure that would be lighter than its current version.

This will require meticulous attention to detail and further experimentation with new materials, however he remains optimistic about achieving this goal.

He aspires to collaborate with an airline or a seat manufacturer in order to make his dream come true.

He is optimistic that such a partnership will enable him to realize his goal of providing comfortable seating for long-distance flights. “Right now, we’re showing the market what we have. And we’re letting the market come and tell us what we need to do next,” he says.

Núñez Vicente has come a long way since the inception of his project in his bedroom at his parents’ home.

His family have been with him every step of the way, and remain an integral part of what he is doing now as he collaborates with industry professionals who boast years of experience.

Even though much has changed, it is clear that familial support remains one of the foundations for Núñez Vicente’s success.

He’s currently at AIX, accompanied by his parents who drove the prototype of the Chaise Longue in a van across Europe. They lent him a helping hand in setting up the seat where it was meant to be situated.

“Of course, at the beginning, no one expected this to get this big to the point where we are today. But they all knew that I was going to be able to do something,” says Núñez Vicente.

“If you asked me before, I would have said maybe it’s just a university project. If you asked me now, after all the hard [work], after all the effort of many, many people – I would say that now this is more of a reality. We see it as the future of the economy class.”

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