This business class seat lets you lie flat during take-off, landing

By David Flynn, June 29 2015
This business class seat lets you lie flat during take-off, landing

A handful of business class seats let you recline during a flight's taxi, take-off and landing stages – but what if you could stretch out totally flat from the moment you get on board through to when you arrive at the gate?

That's the idea behind this unique design from the boffins at B/E Aerospace: a seat which is surrounded by airbags to provide 'comfort and protection to a seat occupant'.

Revealed in a US patent application this week as an 'aircraft seat with taxi, take-off and landing lie flat capability' (we're sure a funkier name will follow), the seats described as being "designed to permit the passenger to take a lie flat position before takeoff would permit the passenger, if desired, to go to sleep even before takeoff."

It's certainly a good way to squeeze extra sleep into that period between the plane pushing back from the gate and the long slow roll along the taxiway. Just grab your dinner at the lounge and go straight from boarding to counting sheep.

"This enhanced capability would appeal to a certain segment of the public willing to pay extra for the ability to rest and/or sleep in a prone position for a longer period of the flight" B/E Aerospace states in its parent application (which you can download from this website).

But it's not just about getting to sleep sooner, B/E Aerospace argues.

"If properly restrained, a lie flat, prone position can provide greater protection against injury by surrounding the passenger  with a series of deployable air bags similar to those present in motor vehicles."

The inflatable bags can also accommodate intermediate positions between bed and bolt upright.

"In accordance with a fuether embodiment of the invention the air bags  are selectivly inflatable and deflatable as the seat moves between the lie flat position and the upright seating position."

If anything, the design reminds us of Cathay Pacific's first generation of lie-flat business class seats: known within the airline as FB1 or the Hercules design, although less kind travellers dubbed them 'cubicle class' or even 'coffin class' due to the high walls and prone position.

However, B/E Aerospace has plenty of form when it comes to airline seating.

The company's off-the-shelf designs are behind Qatar's latest business class (as seen on the Gulf airline's Airbus A350, above, as well as the A380 superjumbo and Boeing 787) and Virgin Australia's next-gen business class (below), among many others.

Read: Virgin Australia's new Airbus A330, Boeing 777 business class seat

The company's designers also cooked up the 'Breakout' business class suite which doubles as a sky-high office.

Read: The Boeing 777 business class seat that's a sky-high office suite

More on new business class designs from AusBT

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2013

Total posts 73

I dont think I'd want to lie flat for take off... It'd make me feel sick!

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 342

If you facing backwards, should be fine 


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 319

Given that takeoff and landings are the most critical parts of flying, I'd prefer to be seated, wearing clothes and shoes.  And with a firm seatbelt around me.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 735

I dunno. If you have to decelerate fast (ie crash), are you better off lying down with the force pushing up through your feet, or sitting facing forwards with the force transmitted through a seatbelt?

I suspect the actual best position is to be seated "backwards" -- ie with the force transmitted across your entire back. That's the position that NASA has always used for astronauts on takeoff, and for landing apart from the Space Shuttle.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

03 Jan 2014

Total posts 8

Maybe they should take it to the next level, bring on the Fifth Element style sleeping pods for those who dont want to sit!  ;) 


14 Aug 2013

Total posts 28

one correction seems appropriate.  prone means lying face-down.  supine is face-up, as the little passenger in the diagrams is illustrating.

Air New Zealand - NZ*E

17 May 2015

Total posts 94

Is this a solution looking for a problem??

I understand we should always look at pushing the boundries and embracing innovation. However, this one seems a likke strange. We are told that take off and landings are the most dangerious part of a plane trip - so I very much agree with Phil otherwise we will soon be filling long haul planes with bunk beds like the sleeper cars on some railway lines.....??

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