Cafes have long been an ad hoc workspace for everyone from students to startups, consultants and collaborative teams – so why not bring that same working environment into the skies, to make long flights more productive for the business traveller?
That's the thinking behind the Coffee House Cabin concept, which overnight won the coveted Cabin Concept trophy overnight at the much-delayed 2020 Crystal Cabin Awards.
Developed by the University of Cincinnati, in partnership with Boeing Company and The Live Well Collaborative, the Coffee House Cabin is described as a "productivity-focused zone targeting the must have needs of the business traveler; a dedicated workstation and personal space."
It swaps a section of middle seats in twin-aisle aircraft for a series of co-working tables, with four passengers seated at each table.
Retractable HD video screens located in the centre of each table would also serve as low-rise partitions for passengers seated directly across from one another.
The seats, sold at roughly the same price as premium economy, would rotate forward for the taxi, take-off and landing stages of the flight, with the table 'wings' folded down.
At cruising altitude, the tables would be erected while passengers swivel around to face the desk and their laptop, which would of course be plugged into handy AC/USB outlets and connected to inflight WiFi.
Other Crystal Cabin Award concept gongs went to Airbus for its Airspace Cabin Vision 2030 – an extension of its existing Airspace cabins with more flexible seating and sleeping configurations, inflight lounges and enhanced OLED lighting...
... and the cabin design of the new Eviation Alice electric commuter jet, with room for nine passengers in "an asymmetric reverse herringbone seating arrangement."
During boarding the seats are aligned with the direction of flight, but after take-off they can be rotated towards the window, enhancing passenger privacy, headspace and the view. In-seat comforts include a large side console, storage space for small items, and a charging point.