Airplane bunk beds and double-decker seats might be the future of economy class travel

For many economy passengers, it’s hard to appreciate the grandeur of being 33,000 feet in the air. Cramped leg room, uncomfortable seating and claustrophobic cabin space can really take the fun out of flying. But there are some inventive minds hard at work on evolving the concept of economy class air travel.

Air New Zealand’s Skynest is transforming the idea of economy-class seating to the reclined position. It’s a bunkbed design that allows passengers to snooze away their flights. The seating concept, which will reportedly hit the market in 2024, earned the Crystal Cabin Award at the 2022 Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX).

“Bunk-bed solution for economy class – this is something which you regularly see as a concept,” Crystal Cabin Award Association president Lukas Kaestner told CNN. “But we rarely see this level of innovation actually becoming a real product that’s flying.”

Air New Zealand is not the only innovator snaring the attention of the air travel community. Another brilliant concept in economy-class travel comes from 23-year-old airplane seat designer Alejandro Nunez Vicente.

“We have had people coming to try it, famous people that saw the article, and they were like, ‘I want to go and try it,’” Nunez Vicente told CNN, discussing the explosive popularity of his double-decker seat design. The concept was nominated for a 2021 Crystal Cabin Award.

It’s a double-level seating concept that increases available leg space per passenger, while also increasing the number of passengers that can fit comfortably on a plane.

The concept is still in its early stages, but Nunez Vincente said he is having conversations with “the biggest players in the industry” regularly. With sponsors and partnership deals in tow, the young designer is hard at work perfecting his idea.

“People can talk and they always hate innovation in some ways,” he said. “Most of the times when they show you something new, everyone hates it at first, they’re scared of change. But the more you show it, and the more you develop it, and the more they see it, the more they get used to it.”