This global pandemic has permanently changed the world in just three months. It started with a warning, then it turned into a pandemic that has transformed life as we know it. Naturally, a crisis this big is changing so much, from how we work and go on with our daily lives to how we travel. It’s ultimately affected the travel industry as traveling worldwide came to a complete halt. It’s still too early to tell when travel will go back to normal, but for now, we can tell that there will be a new normal for travel. When we’re back to traveling, the way we travel will likely be different.
The change in the travel industry is starting already with this new design for airplane seats. Since social distancing rules don’t seem to be distancing from us anytime soon, these new seats are designed to accommodate essential social distancing. Aviointeriors, an Italian aviation design firm, has proposed two concepts for what airplane seats might look like in the era of coronavirus, to keep passengers safe. The first concept, called the Janus, is a two-faced seat that would allow three passengers in a row to be separated by transparent shields. Aisle and window seat passengers would face forward, while middle seat passengers would face backward. The safety shield would theoretically protect passengers from airborne germs when one sneezes, coughs, or “speaks moistly,” and would be easy to clean while ensuring the maximum isolation between passengers seated next to each other. The name is inspired by two-faced Janus, the god of Ancient Rome, according to a statement by Aviointeriors.
The second design is called “Glassafe,” and doesn’t require any actual changes to the plane’s interior. In this concept, transparent shields would be installed directly between existing seats. The company has already filed patent applications for both designs.
It’s still unclear how economy class travel will survive in the era of social distancing. Alexandre de Juniac from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), suggested that airlines having to leave some seats empty on flights would mean the end of cheap air travel. But these new designs are a hope that there are solutions that can revolutionize the economy class cabin while still keeping passengers safe, and not going broke paying for economy.