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Pros and Cons of the Proposed “Isolated Seat” Concepts

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


The Internet is abuzz this week with two airline seating concepts designed to isolate passengers — thus minimizing the risks of spreading viruses and other germs.

Both designs have their good and bad. Below are my thoughts. And I also want to hear your opinions, too!

The Janus Seat

The Janus Seat — designed by Avio Interiors — features two forward-facing seats (the aisle and window), with the middle seat looking toward the back.

Each passenger is surrounded on three sides by a shield “that prevents the breath propagation to occupants of adjacent seats.”

Janus Seat Pros

There are several features I find attractive here. Unfortunately, most of them are only good for solo travelers (or those avoiding their companions).

Isolation

I’m usually not the chatty type on flights. It’s nothing personal — I’m just shy in person. These shields help preserve my personal space and let me stay in my imaginary cocoon.

No Elbow Bumping

Glory, glory, hallelujah! The design seems to prevent elbows (and other body parts) from bumping into those of the passenger(s) seated next to you.

Safety Shield

I like something protecting me from other people’s germs. But I’m not certain this would work as planned. Why? That’s first on my list of cons.

Janus Seat Cons

An Illusion of Safety?

If you really think airlines will clean every inch of these shields between each flight, I have some oceanfront property in North Dakota you’ll love.

Or maybe this is one more thing — in addition to tray tables, seatbelts, armrests, etc — we ourselves clean with alcohol pads or Clorox wipes.

Peep and Creep

Check out the dude sitting in the aisle seat. From this depiction, he can totally stare at the middle seat occupant — and vice versa. And the person sitting in the middle can gaze at the nice lady sitting in the aisle seat.

Ew.

Difficult for Conversations

When I travel with family or colleagues, we (usually) enjoy talking with each other. I don’t see how that’s possible with the Janus design.

Terrible for Families

My family sits together when we travel because we need to.

My wife and I have a three-year-old who — despite her protests — needs help during the flight. This seating arrangement simply does not work for us.

A toddler -- wearing an airplane harness and unicorn headphone with built-in earphones -- watches a tablet during a Delta Air Lines flight.
This works.

Even if the shields could be removed, it wouldn’t make me comfortable as a parent. (Cue the “Kids Shouldn’t Fly!” contingent 😉 )

(Although in about 10 years, my then-teenage daughter will love this concept; it’ll isolate her from my wife and me 🙂 . )

The Glassafe Concept

Avio Interiors’ other design released this week is the “Glassafe” — a “kit-level solution that can be installed on existing seats to make close proximity safer among passengers sharing the same seat.”

(I think they meant sharing the same row. “Sharing the same seat” is a tad more intimate.)

Pros

No Awkward or Uncomfortable Sightlines

This eliminates the “Peep and Creep” concern I have with the Janus seats.

Requires Little — if Any — Major Retrofitting

Because these shields can be installed on existing seats, it saves airlines the costs of retrofitting their planes — like they must for the Janus design.

And when airline costs go up, we pay for them.

Better for Families and Companions

This certainly is a better option than the Janus for families, companions, and colleagues traveling together.

Cons

Narrower Seating?

If each seat has its own shield — as is depicted in the sample photo — how much tighter are we squeezed into our seats? (Although it appears there’s a cutout for some arm space.)

Reduced Window Viewing?

It looks as though window seat passengers have the shield between them and the window — thus hampering the view.

Cleaning

Just like with the Janus seats, this option looks like more work — and expense — for airlines. And who knows how often they’ll actually clean them?

Quick, final thought on the Glassafe shields. They remind me of the new first class seats Delta announced they’ll install on new A321neos.

New Delta Air Lines first class seats

Final Approach

Both concepts offer a lot — but include their drawbacks. I sort of prefer the Janus design for solo travel — and would have to get over my self-consciousness 🙂 . But it’s a no-fly for me when it comes to family travel.

The Glassafe is an interesting approach — and certainly the better option for families with young children. But I don’t know how comfortable we’d be.

What Do You Think?

Is either of these isolation concepts good with you? Do you like them both?

Cabin crews who read the blog — I think most other readers would love your input, too!

Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!

— Chris

 

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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7 Comments

  1. The GlassSafe concept seems the most logical at this time. Especially if it is used in tandem with a major fogging of every plane before every flight (not just the quick once over a plane gets now on a stopover).

    Yes….added costs to the airlines and we’ll be paying for it and none of this in any way will prevent all germs. But, the key is is not prevention as much as mitigation. Everyone knows insurance works on percentage of risk. Flat backyard? You pay ‘x’. Add a pool with a diving board…now you pay ‘xx’. Because the risk has gone up.

    Same here…in reverse…by using the GlassSafe seating system and fogging each plane before new passengers get on it will lower the risk. Then each person can utilize their own protocols also (mask, wipes, etc.)

    It’s not great…but what choice do we have?

  2. These concepts won’t matter. They simply highlight the problem. If Covid-19 is prevalent enough to require such measures and investment, people will not feel safe travelling. Even if you are safe on board, which is questionable, there is still the issue of the safety and wisdom of being in public generally. The unavoidable fact is that controlling this disease is the only thing that will let travel return to anything close to normal.

  3. Both are really useless. Neither solution is going to stop small mist from a sneeze or cough from reaching other passengers. In the Glassafe approach, the arm rests are still shared, so what’s the point? And clearly the guy in the photo likes to touch his face.

  4. Interesting stuff, Chris.

    On the Janus, do you see the opp for recline? The shield looks very close to the seat. And that would mean that the similar seat in front of the rear-facing passenger leaves the “creeper” with only a slot to gaze at either of the forward facing passengers…which could shrink if the seat in front of the creeper reclines. I think…

    How about Airbus and Boeing feedback on recirculated air? I know Ed Bastian threw out some comments about HEPA filters being used, but is that for the original bleed from a compressor, or continuously for all air in the cabins…do we believe it’s all good?

  5. Jay R. Gates Reply

    It is a moot point. This whole exercise is a bunch of ****. By next year if not before no one will remember Covid19. There maybe less airlines to choose from but Delta should come out on top.

    I am ready to fly today- no mask, gloves or wipes. Let’s get the country moving again and keep the people that are at risk at home if they are not comfortable and let the rest of us get on with our lives.

    • @Jay R. Gates: I have a family member very sick and infected with coronavirus, so I’ll disagree with you on the “no one will remember [COVID-19].”

      • Barry Graham Reply

        I agree with you Chris, everyone will and should remember it, both for the very bad things like your family member being sick, and for the good things that we’ve experienced.

        If these devices can be installed without making people feel uncomfortable then they may be OK. That is assuming that they would actually be preventing sickness.

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