In a post-pandemic world, the idea of being elbow to elbow with strangers for hours at a time in a tube hurtling through the air will be even less appealing than it was before we learned the terms "novel coronavirus" and "social distancing."
Italian design company Avio Interiors has issued concepts for new airplane seating arrangements intended to allay anxieties and slow the spread of any kind of pathogen.
Avio explains its concept for "Janus" seating (named after the multi-faced Roman god) in a caption written in Italian and English. It's been re-translated and condensed for clarity below:
"Janus" is a two-sided seating arrangement that separates passengers with a shield, isolating them from each other, forming a protective barrier for all. Each passenger has their own space isolated from seatmates and from people passing through the corridor.
Each “Janus” seat is surrounded on three sides by shielding high enough to stop the spread of breath towards occupants of the adjacent seats.
Materials used in the "Janus" armchair have been chosen because they are safe and easy to clean.
According to Designboom, Avio Interiors has also designed an interaction-reducing kit that could be installed over seating on existing airplanes, reducing the need for a complete overhaul.
They've named this idea "Glassafe." It essentially enforces more room around each individual passenger, again with the intention of making it much more difficult to spread pathogens between passengers.
Avio designers conceived "Glassafe" as clear enough to allow light to pass through but still just opaque enough to give flyers privacy.
The "Janus" solution might not happen anytime soon, but it wouldn't be a surprise to find "Glassafe" or something very similar on planes in the very near future.