Everyone who flew before for over a few hours (and worse for long hours in international flights) is familiar with the difficulty of sleeping on a plane, particularly when flying economy. For such a long time, fliers have to endure the challenge brought by sleeping in the economy class seat. The experience is so uncomfortable it can cause a neck kink that can bother you for days.
Sleeping on a plane isn’t natural. Most would try to unhappily contend with the situation by resorting to half-baked and impractical solutions like inflatable pillows and contraptions of various shapes to support the neck. But then, the body will fall back into what the body is naturally inclined to fall into – a more horizontal position.
The Boeing Solution
It seems that fliers’ dream of comfortably sleeping while sitting upright (considered important in planes to save space) is now fast becoming a reality with Boeing’s patented “transport based upright sleep support system.” This is the essence of Thomson Wall’s The Future of Air Travel Could Include Boeing’s Patented ‘Cuddle Chair’. With this, fliers will finally get a good night’s or a day’s sleep even when flying cheap. Here’s how it works, a video from PatentYogi:
“The novel and somewhat bizarre contraption, which GeekWire dubbed the “cuddle chair,” involves removing a backpack from underneath the seat and strapping it to seatbelt-like fasteners on both sides of the passenger’s head. The device contains a chest cushion and “face relief aperture” (think of a standard massage chair) that the passenger then leans into to sleep in a forward-leaning position without leaving an imprint or smudging makeup.”
Boeing said that the “transport based upright sleep support system” aka “cuddle chair” is a far superior solution. It can comfortably support the neck and the body in an upright position, preventing banging the head on the back of the front seat or entertainment console. The support system also offers a comfortable rest for the face.
Is Boeing Pursuing the Patent?
Fliers don’t rejoice just yet. Boeing is known to file patents for many contraptions year after year, but not every one of these see completions or bear fruition. This means don’t expect to get the cuddle chair readily integrated into its fleet. Know, however, that other airline giants are as eager to provide passenger comfort in their sleep while flying. For instance, Airbus is said to have filed a patent for some sort of bicycle-like seats. While it will, perhaps, result to a more tortured sleep or a grueling flight, it is an indication that finding ways to better sleep while on a plane is an airline concern.
The cuddle seat can use up that precious (every space on the plane is precious) space under your seat. Sacrificing that valuable under-seat space for your personal stuff can make the idea a hard sell for some. Yet, when airlines consider that most passengers would be willing to trade that small space for a cuddle seat that can offer a good shut-eye to build energy for the days ahead, Boeing might just take the leap. Hopefully, the other airlines would be prompted by competition and follow suit.
Here’s to the future of sleeping upright and comfortably while on a plane. “May their tribe increase.”