Can the radical 'Space X' business class make the middle seat desirable?

By Chris Chamberlin , June 29 2016
Can the radical 'Space X' business class make the middle seat desirable?

Most business travellers will do almost anything to avoid the dreaded middle seat, but this novel design could turn it into one of the most coveted spots on the plane.

It's the 'Space X' concept created by aircraft seat manufacturer Jamco in collaboration with Japanese designer Satoshi Wada – best known for a decade at Audi which resulted in the A5, S5, A6 and Q7 and several concept models.

First up, it's more of a suite than a seat, with travellers enjoying a cocoon of privacy.

And despite the 2-3-2 seating layout, Jamco says that every passenger flying in a Space X business class cabin will have direct access to the aisle.

The suites are staggered in a way which reminds us of Korean Air’s latest business class cabin on flights to Australia, as well as Japan Airlines' Boeing 777 Sky Suites, with a series of small pathways leading from each seat to the aisle:

Review: Japan Airlines Sky Suite business class: Sydney-Tokyo

Now, about that middle seat...

It's got a wider seat cushion and bed than its neighbours, at 26.4 inches vs 25.6 inches in the outer seats.

... while the 4K video screen has been upsized from 24 inches to 28 inches.

But no matter where you sit, high-tech flourishes abound: there's wireless charging of your smartphone or tablet (below), individual seat temperature controls and even built-in humidifiers.

(Interestingly, designer Wada eschewed many of the complex mechanisms and motors of most modern business class seats –most noticeably, the seat is more like a sofa which converts into a fully-flat bed by simply pulling out the base.)

The Panasonic’s inflight entertainment system can be controlled using your own device.

Other nifty techno touches also include a ‘do not disturb’ light (something already in a few airline's latest business class seats and which we’d like to see more airlines adopt).

When it’s time for bed, each seat extends to a precise 74.9 inches (190cm) for a good night’s sleep…

… again surprisingly making the middle seats the best option – you can raise a privacy screen on each side, and as the middle passenger exits to a small dedicated passageway in front of each row, there’s a little extra room for toes to point out and over the mattress:

Or, fly with a partner or spouse and leave one of the central dividers open to chit-chat:

You can even phone the cabin crew rather than having them attend to your seat in person should you require anything quickly:

Beyond that, there’s plenty of space for your kit with central holders adjacent to your fixed lamp, along with an ottoman and sliding yet sturdy tray table:

When not in use, that table slides back underneath the entertainment screen but remains entirely usable for holding large devices such as laptops:

As is currently available in some first class seats including aboard Etihad’s older Boeing 777s and newer 787s, your carry-on baggage slips underneath that ottoman rather than in a locker above your head, making for a more spacious cabin where those lockers are removed:

So how far away is all of this? Jamco's Space X business class seat is soon to begin the rigorous and mandatory round of safety certification, but the company expects it'll be ready for launch by mid-2018.

Also read:

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

28 May 2016

Total posts 128

Looks good, hopefully a few airlines adopt this seat.

The only issue I could see with it is the wireless charging of phones; I assume the seat would have additional outlets for charging older phones which are not wireless and for charging the likes of laptops/tablets.

Lets hope this doesn't turn into something like the cozy suite, great potential but no one biting for it.

qantas

10 Oct 2013

Total posts 114

wow

It looks gorgeous but I don't see how this can offer any density advantage over BE Apex. This clearly is a "Business-First" product and it looks wonderful, but is it practical?

12 Feb 2014

Total posts 230

Simplifying on the seat mechanics by making the bed a pull-out will likely save a substantial amount on costs that can instead be dedicated to making the product look and feel more premium. I generally never take too much advantage of all the various seat positions that can be gained by what I'm guessing is a very elaborate and expensive electronic system. I sometimes slope the seat back a bit, or I have it in lie flat bed mode. If this can be achieved mechanically rather than elcetronically I'd be happy to see the money plowed into other aspects of product design.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

Is this really a "novel design"?

Frankly, the layout & concept are fundamentally no diff than the SkySuite(aka SS7) longhaul J product debuted+adopted by JL(As mentioned in this article) on its 77W fleet 3yrs+ ago.  Only diff is in minor styling aspects such as choice of material+colour.

No need to wait /hope till mid-2018 when this design is expected to be certified: JL deployed SkySuite on SYD-NRT since Dec14.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 47

I'm up for that!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Jul 2012

Total posts 35

I am confused.

All the images of the new concept show the seats in line window to window but there is a comment they would be staggered a la Korean Air. If staggered it all makes sense except how the middle (or window) seats would gain any more space for toes to hang over into the access path - as in a staggered layout there would be a wall where the entertainment system, ottoman etc are located.

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 160

I flew the similar JAL Skysuite on the 777-300 NRT-SYD.  IMHO it is the most comfortable J class seat out there.  Loads of privacy, loads of room but most importantly (for me) is the sense of openness.

I love direct aisle access but i'm not a fan of these staggered 1-2-1 configs.  I find these seats where your legs are covered up in some cubby hole that you have to fit into so umcomfortable and claustropbic when flat.

Agreed. The JAL version of this is great! Hope more airlines the don't want go 1-2-1 adopt this version of 2-3-2.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

It looks like the middle bed/seat runs the full width of the "cocoon", so I'm guessing there wont be room to swing your legs over the side when in bed mode which means you would have to scoot down to the foot of the bed in order to stand up.

Also curious to know how wide those little passageways will be.

Just imaging the huffing and puffing and scrambling around for a very fat person like me to get up and out of the bed and then the idignaty of getting wedged in the passageway :-)


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