New airline seats

Approx read: 3 mins

Renowned British design firm Seymourpowell have re-thought the approach to economy class seats for airline travel inspired by the difference in size of travellers, the variety of new materials now available and the need for cabin flexibility.

Called ‘Morph’, the seat has been designed to offer passengers a choice over the amount of space they pay for (or need) and to provide a better fit for more people.

Seymourpowell’s concept provides an alternative to the standard economy seat, which ergonomically has been designed for everyone by averaging the sizes of the largest and smallest percentiles to a point where it fits relatively few people properly. Morph is still presented to any airline as a standard product so it can fit the traditional spaces in passenger aircraft but offers the ability to adapt to the changing needs of the passenger.

new airline seats - battleface

The Morph seat works by replacing traditional foam pads with a fabric that is stretched across the width of three seats, around a frame and over formers. One piece of fabric is used for the seat back and one is used for the seat base. The fabric is clamped down by the armrests and the upper dividers to form three individual hammock styled seats (though forget the swinging sensation of what you might know as a hammock).

By moving the formers and pushing them through the fabric the recline function and other ergonomic adjustments are created, literally morphing the fabric to provide a tailored fit and greater comfort for the bigger and smaller traveller.

More good news for passengers is that the recline happens within the soft furnishings – the solid seat back does not move so no one gets squashed in the row behind. Essentially, the architecture and visual cues indicate that the back of the seat belongs to the passenger facing it.

As just one sheet of fabric is used across three seats, the dividers can be moved laterally and then clamped down in a different position and so adjusting the width of each individual seat. Families travelling together can tailor their seats according to size. For example a Mum and Dad with an infant could pre-book a large, medium and a small space across one row and have the space pre-set for their family needs.

Different body types, different ages, different sexes, different needs. Why hasn’t this been thought of before?


The Morph also opens up a new concept for the airline to sell the ‘space’ and not the seat for the flight. Undeniably, this creates scalable value and possibly a fairer deal for travellers – especially those in the section traditionally known as cattle class. And in an industry that has come a long way from legacy carriers who dominated the routes and skies, this could be another breakthrough moment for airlines to embrace passenger comfort and the costs related to that all the way down in the cheapest classes.

Did I say cheap? I mean value class. Now, where did I put those air-mile points for an upgrade?

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An avid international traveller, surfer lover of the oceans, writer and researcher.