Written by Isabelle on July 27, 2020

Airplane cabin ideas for social distancing

It's going to be a long time until air travel feels normal again, but it's also likely that many of us will have to travel before a vaccine is widely adopted. So in the meantime, airlines are looking at innovative ways to make travellers feel safer on planes.

A report released in May outlined some of the precautions airlines have already introduced, for example:

  • Emirates prohibits large carry-on bags to reduce congestion in the aisles while boarding and deplaning, and to speed the process.
  • Etihad Airways is trialling new passenger screening kiosks to help identify travellers at the early phases of COVID-19 infection.
  • Hilton introduced a branding and operations platform in partnership with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic to boost guest confidence in hotel accommodations.
  • Korean Air has implemented temperature checks for all passengers boarding aircraft at Seoul Incheon Airport.
  • United is integrating electrostatic spraying into its cleaning procedures on all flights.
  • Xiamen Airlines has an inflight separation zone for ill passengers in the aft cabin.

Many of the ideas for changes to cabin design involve a physical barrier between passengers. This helps enforce social distancing while doubling as a visual reminder of the precautions put in place to make us feel safe.

The most common of these being dividers between each seat, with variances in shape and material. These ones by Autostop Aviation have already undergone flight trials and could be inserted relatively easily.

Airflow down the cabin could be disrupted by fitting Jamco America’s Soft Divider, a leather-wrapped eyebrow-type hanging class divider for single-aisle aircraft. The simple design has a larger surface area than Jamco’s previous hanging dividers, which could potentially reduce the spread of germs, as well as creating an additional visual and physical separation between the passengers either side of the unit.

A rather more extreme approach has been taken by Stuttgart-based Design and Science Lab, which has created a concept for a physical, sealed barrier between passengers. The design is a full cocoon that fits over an aircraft seat and its occupant, keeping them completely isolated in the cabin.

If you'd like to peruse more of the potential airplane cabin design innovations being developed in response to COVID-19, Aircraft Interiors International has a great round-up.

Blog post written by Isabelle

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