In the realm of aviation innovation, Alejandro Núñez Vicente, a 23-year-old airplane seat designer, has boldly stepped forward with a concept that has sparked both excitement and debate among industry insiders and would-be passengers alike. His double-level seating prototype, known as the Chaise Longue, is poised to revolutionize economy flying, according to Núñez Vicente.
Originally conceived as a college project in 2021, the Chaise Longue gained significant attention after receiving a nomination for the prestigious Crystal Cabin Awards in the same year. Since then, Núñez Vicente has devoted his time and resources to refining his vision, attracting sponsors, partnership deals, and garnering attention from major players in the industry.
The concept of double-level seating has drawn mixed reactions, with some expressing concerns about potential claustrophobia and accusations of airlines prioritizing cramming more seats into planes. However, Núñez Vicente is adamant that such criticisms miss the mark. He envisions the Chaise Longue integrated into the center of the aircraft cabin, flanked by two rows of regular airplane seating. Recognizing that this configuration may not be suitable or appealing to all passengers, Núñez Vicente emphasizes that his design aims to solve the perennial conundrum of uncomfortable airplane seats, rather than exacerbate it.
Standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall, Núñez Vicente has personally experienced the challenges of cramped legroom during flights. He asserts that the Chaise Longue addresses this issue, offering increased comfort for certain passengers. However, he acknowledges that airlines see the appeal of the design in terms of maximizing passenger capacity, even though it is not his primary goal.
At the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Núñez Vicente unveiled the latest prototype of the Chaise Longue, which featured several improvements over its predecessor. The updated design showcased four rows—two on the top level and two on the bottom—with reclining upcycled airplane seats from 1995. Luggage storage was reconfigured, personal device usage for inflight entertainment was encouraged, and legroom was enhanced. Additionally, the lower level seats could be folded up, potentially accommodating wheelchair users and improving accessibility.
While Núñez Vicente has received interest from airlines and industry stakeholders, he recognizes the challenges ahead. The lengthy and complex process of obtaining certifications is underway, and securing investments for economy-class innovations can be challenging. Nonetheless, he remains optimistic about the viability of his concept, believing that the double-level structure could be adapted for any cabin class.