AirGo design promises long-haul travel in comfort

In the future, long-haul economy misery may be regarded as a quaint relic of the bad old days of airline travel. A radical rethink of the way aircraft seating is designed could provide a far more comfortable journey for intercontinental jet-setters.

A Malaysia-based engineering student Alireza Yaghoubi has conceived an elegant solution to the discomfort of cattle-class passengers crammed into tight rows for long flights. His Airgo seating uses ergonomic design and the ingenious solution of stashing trays and screens in an overhead storage space. The design won Yaghoubi the James Dyson Award for innovation.

Travelling regularly on eight-hour flights helped Yaghoubi come up with his solutions. He identified one of the key discomforts as being the habit of reclining the seat for long flights, thus annoying the passenger behind, who, if American, will complain loud and long or, if British, will tut and mutter their disapproval.

This reclining habit, Yaghoubi pointed out to ABC News, "takes up one third of the space I have paid for. It gets worse when the person in front decides to recline his/her seat and the screen as well as the tray is then no more in your control."

The Airgo solves this problem by giving each seat an independent space in the row. Airline executives schooled in the Ryanair ethos of packing in as many passengers as possible might be horrified by this idea, but in fact AirGo seats are designed so that only 16 percent more space is required. The degree of extra comfort would certainly be worth a similar percentage hike in fares.

It’s ingenious and overdue. The only concern is whether the innovation might have arrived too late, with the airline industry in crisis and wary of costly new investments. The battery problems with the new Dreamliner have been a nightmare, and Yaghoubi and his backers will need to be very persuasive to get airlines to rethink their entire business model.

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