In the space of six months air travel has altered dramatically.

Half empty planes are making it increasingly expensive for those selling and buying seats, while passengers are conscious that cabins are still overcrowded.

Both airlines and passengers who have had to deal with the new social distancing requirements of post-Covid 19 flights are in agreement: it can't go on like this.

However there are some creative solutions to post-pandemic flying in the pipeline. Some of which might actually improve the flying experience.

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New seating configurations and shields like the perspex "Glassafe" concept by Aviointeriors are one way around social distancing, but perhaps it is designer Jeffrey O'Neill's concept of a lie-flat economy seat that is taking distanced seating to another level.

The Zephyr Seat is arranged in a double-decker configuration. Like a bunk bed in the skies the concept by Zephyr Aerospace is not only hygienic but also generous on space. This second tier of seats means that passengers are not only safely separated, but also have enough space to lie down.

By moving passengers onto a second layer it allows almost as many seats as a conventional cabin arrangement, but without the crowding. The two-four-two configuration allows airlines to balance passenger numbers with passenger comfort. You'll certainly not have to worry about reclining passengers invading your personal space.

Ther L-shaped seats allow for restless fliers to find some shut-eye. Photo / Supplied, Zephyr Aerospace
Ther L-shaped seats allow for restless fliers to find some shut-eye. Photo / Supplied, Zephyr Aerospace

"We believe that new types of travelers will require privacy or will want to pay extra for that as much as they would pay for the ability to sleep," O'Neill told CNN Travel.

The L shaped seat allows passengers to put their feet up and take a nap, or parents to share the space with younger travellers.

O'Neill explained to CNN that the concept was dreamt up on a sleepless flight between New York and Singapore, many years ago.

The designer found that the cost of the nearest lie-flat option was up to eight-times more expensive than an economy fare.

"Why is it so difficult to find an affordable way to lie flat on a flight that's 19 hours?" he thought.

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However, it is only since the social distancing requirements and the Covid-19 crisis that the concept has become a viable option.

The two-tiered approach allows for passenger numbers and distancing to be observed. Photo / Supplied, Zephyr Aerospace
The two-tiered approach allows for passenger numbers and distancing to be observed. Photo / Supplied, Zephyr Aerospace

Launched at the 2019 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the idea of an affordable lie-flat bed and distanced tiers of beds has taken off.

The company says that it is in conversations with plane manufacturers, interior design companies and airlines including Qantas and Air New Zealand regarding the long-haul configurations.

Sadly, these flying bunk beds are only at the concept stage - and it could take as long as three years before they are sufficiently tested for safety and viability.

However there's no doubt in that time the demands of airlines will have changed dramatically. Until then airlines can only block out seats and enforce facial covering for crew and passengers. It's clear that these are only temporary solutions to a problem that will be with us for a while.