Flying in the wake of COVID-19 seems like a dubious task, but a necessary one nonetheless.
Some are talking about inter-switching seats and adding plastic shields between each seat, while some airports like Las Vegas have added vending machines selling personal protective gear in their terminals.
Now, French aeronautical engineer, Florian Barjot, has come up with PlanBay — a plastic protective contraption that adds a protective panel in the middle seat of economy class rows.
Barjot's design doesn't require airlines to completely rethink or remodel the interior of their planes, rather, he proposes a design for economy class seats to add a plastic partition into the empty middle seat, and behind each headrest.
According to Barjot, it's an easy design to install, the kit is easy to produce, and the cost is kept low.
Barjot also designed a cargo hold project named EarthBay, and PlanBay plays off the term "Plan B" from his initial EarthBay idea.
Barjot told CNN "The idea of a removable kit makes sense when the need for sanitary measures is temporary and/or limited to a geographic area."
The idea hasn't yet been accepted as Barjot has only recently placed a request for a patent. However, it seems like an ideal design as even if airlines keep the middle seat empty during these social distancing times, that space doesn't amount to the widely used 1.5 meters. Adding a partition would hugely help travelers feel, and be safe.
Barjot's concept still has a long way to go though, as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released a statement on May 5, in which it said it didn't support sectioning off middle seats in planes, rather it urged travelers to wear face masks.
The worry is that if airlines fly with all middle seats empty, it'll end up costing the airline more to fly than what it could earn from a full flight. Moreover, the IATA said "Evidence suggests that the risk of transmission on board aircraft is low. Mask-wearing by passengers and crew will reduce the already low risk while avoiding the dramatic cost increases to air travel that onboard social distancing measures would bring."
With all that said and done, Barjot's concept seems to make a solid case for itself anways, and would perhaps encourage more people to fly more regularly, as they would feel safer.
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