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Is the great Covid-19 airplane seat overhaul happening?

September 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Plexiglass dividers between passengers, new staggered row layouts, zig-zag seating, space-age transparent bubbles around travelers' heads are among proposals to make Covid-era air travel safer. But as thinking shifts on how the infection is spread, their introduction isn't straightforward.

(CNN) — Plexiglass dividers between passengers, new staggered row layouts, zig-zag seating, space-age transparent bubbles around travelers' heads -- just as new divider screens popped up in shops and restaurants around the world in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, so came a wide variety of new concepts for airline seating.

"The reasons for the apparently low rate of in-flight transmission are not known," noted the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline trade body, "but could encompass a combination of the lack of face-to-face contact, and the physical barriers provided by seat backs, along with the characteristics of cabin air flow.

Some companies even proposed new ways of arranging the seats, such as the Janus seat from Aviointeriors, where passengers face in alternating directions.

The proposed barriers attached in a variety of ways to the seat, and that led to very specific challenges in bringing them on board.

That's true whether it's attached to the seat or provided by the airline -- as in, for example, a foam insert to create barriers from the row behind.

Recaro has proposed a number of barrier-style additions, as well as antimicrobial technology to be embedded in seat materials during the manufacturing process.

Timing, too, is a point against the implementation of many of these measures -- both the expected timing of widespread vaccine availability in early to mid 2021, and the time needed to design, certify, manufacture, and install new seats or barrier additions.

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