Airplane middle seats are being redesigned for Coronavirus

The Isolate turns an airline’s middle seat into a partition

The airline industry is one of the industries that have been most affected by the Coronavirus. Even if airlines like Delta and United have adjusted their miles redemption programs to lure in customers, the majority of people are still very cautious of the crowded nature of air travel.

But there are still those who need to fly and, for the safety of their customers, recently, some airlines have been leaving most of the middle seats empty to enforce proper social distancing.

An air travel design firm from London, Factory Design, set out to give those empty middle seats a purpose by redesigning them to add extra protection for those sitting in the same row. They’ve called this the Isolate and it’s basically a drop-in partition that’s placed on the middle seat to act as some sort of separator.

Peter Tennent, Factory Design’s Director, says ” “We thought if that [middle] seat is going to be blocked out, why not make a positive feature for the passenger that adds value, rather than be seen as a negative.”

The Isolate not only protects the passenger but, thanks to its design, also adds a little extra surface space for each side. It utilizes a slot-style mechanism where the airline can easily insert a screen or foam partition to act as a barrier.

Factory Design is also working to develop the Isolate to fit many seat types so a lot more airlines can use them. The firm says that this goal is challenging due to the differences in width and length of seats across airlines but should be doable if they were to use adaptors and the like.

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Currently, still in development, there’s no set date for when we’ll be seeing the Isolate on airlines. It may still be ways down the road because apart from product development, the product still has to go through certifications. “Realistically, we probably need three to four months and the right partners,” says Tennant.