A new staggered seating design that makes flying in the middle seat more comfortable has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the US civil aviation body.
The S1, an innovative seating structure that puts the middle airline seat several inches lower than and further back from the aisle and window seats, has already received orders from an unnamed US airline since gaining approval.
It will be installed on 50 aircraft by the end of 2020, reports Fast Company.
Molon Labe Seating has been developing the product for five years, with the aim of creating a type of seating that increases passengers’ comfort without reducing a plane’s capacity.
The seats’ design also means every traveler has elbow room: armrests are angled so that the middle passenger can use the back portion and the window and aisle passengers can use the front.
To make the middle seat even more desirable, at 21 inches rather than 18 it is several inches wider than the adjacent chairs in the S1 model.
Every seat also comes with its own smartphone or tablet holder, USB port and latchless table.
“We have discovered that what looks like a small stagger actually makes a huge difference,” said Molon Labe founder Hank Scott. “The trick is to actually sit in the seat. In fact, our main sales tool is to ship seats to airlines so they can sit in them.”
While the S1 is designed for short-haul commuter flights, the company is also developing staggered S2 and S3 models for long-haul journeys, which come with the widest seats plus the biggest inflight entertainment systems in economy class on the market.
The seats also have an optional bonus feature called “side slip”, which enables the aisle seat to slide over the center seat.
This design quirk means the aisles can be made wider during boarding, allowing passengers to get on and off the plane more quickly.
Following a successful trial period, United Airlines is increasing the number of airports available on its ConnectionSaver tool.
United Mileage Plus members are now eligible for discounted memberships with Clear, whose biometric security clearance machines provide expedited TSA clearance at 31 U.S. airports.