Flight After COVID-19: Hygienic Screens in Economy Class Cabins

An Italian aviation design firm has proposed a new concept for commercial flights after COVID-19: Glassafe aims to separate passengers amid social distancing.
Brad Bergan
Image formatted to fit. Janus Seat / Aviointeriors

While airlines seek new ways to help passengers practice social distancing on commercial flights, one Italian aviation design company debuted a new product that might forever transform the face of economy class travel in planes. To answer the challenge COVID-19 poses to the commercial flight industry, Aviointeriors developed a hygienic screen to cocoon passengers, to separate each person from their neighbors, reports Simple Flying.


Economy flights with social distancing after COVID-19

One of the toughest obstacles facing airlines today is finding a way to bring flying back to the global masses without breaking social distancing rules. Some have considered blocking middle seats to create distance between passengers, while others are testing every passenger for COVID-19 before letting them board the plane.

However, neither of these options comes without a catch. Blocking middle seats will drastically cut airline fare revenue — by one-third, which would make fares higher for the rest of us. For now, testing every passenger works, but it's not likely airlines will be capable of scaling a 100% testing rate when demand resumes its pre-coronavirus rates.

The Italian solution to flight in the time after COVID-19 is a product called Glassafe, designed to shield passengers from their neighbors and passersby in the aisle by cocooning each person in a plastic shield. It doesn't sound ideal, but it could also provide privacy and comfort.

Aviointeriors Glassafe 1
Glassafe is an easy retrofit to aircraft seats. Source: Aviointeriors / Pinterest

Glassafe at a glance

Glassafe is made of transparent material that allows light to pass through, so passengers aren't sitting in darkness. The company describes it as a "kit level solution," which means it can be installed with ease without expensive modifications. In a word, it creates a barrier around each passenger, to (hopefully) reduce the risk of transmission of air that may be possibly contaminated with the novel coronavirus.

In a statement on the new product concept, Aviointeriors said: "Glassafe [creates] an isolated volume around the passenger in order to avoid or minimize contacts and interactions via air between passenger and passenger, so as to reduce the probability of contamination by viruses or other."

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Aviointeriors Glassafe 2
The new concept aims to help airlines sell more seats while minimizing the break from social distancing. Source: Aviointeriors / Pinterest

The new product was shaped to provide passengers with freedom to move around within their seats, and to give them access to seat pockets, tray tables, and IFE. The company hopes to supply these products in a range of finishes, with varying levels of opacity, to suit each airline's individual needs.

While this is still in the concept stage, Aviointeriors has patented the product and says the design is ready for production. In theory, it seems like a good-faith attempt to work around the global problem that the COVID-19 pandemic poses to every industry. As an option, Aviointeriors' product is definitely easy to implement via a quick retrofit of existing planes, which will allow airlines to refill their cabins with a promise of safety. But before the airline industry can use it, international regulators must first give the thumbs-up.