Flying premium economy or business class doesn't always rule out uncomfortable seats, especially during long haul flights.

Now, a new airline seating design would let an airline convert seats between classes as needed, and create a extra comfy business-class seat with a separate private bed.


Dubbed The Butterfly Seating Solution, it was created by James S.H. Lee, CEO of industrial design firm Paperclip, and has multiple configurations that aim to make the most of limited cabin space.

In premium-economy, it can create two seats that are staggered.  This makes for a roomy 21 inches between arm rests, which is as wide as many of the business-class seats on the market. Its pitch, or the amount of space between seat rows after a seat is reclined, measures 44 inches.  Average premium-economy airline pitch range between 37 and 42 inches. Other features in premium economy include large cocktail trays, seat pockets on the side and an adjustable ottoman.


The Butterfly can also be configured as one-passenger business class seat with a private bed that also provides direct aisle access and twice the space of the premium-economy seat. The aisle can be folded over to make the largest bed surface in the industry, measuring in at 77 inches long, from top to bottom.


Paperclip Design says the converted business class seat has soft furnishings and side couch with homey touches, giving the area a living room-like ambience.

This seating design won the prestigious Crystal Cabin Award, as well as the championship at the International Air Transport Association’s Passenger Innovation Awards, according to International Business Times.

“My background was in airline management,” Lee told IBT. “As a designer instead of pure aesthetics I tend to think of ideas that can actually help the airline business. My focus the past few years had been on flexible seating, because I know for sure it helps revenue management tremendously. There has yet to be a design that works elegantly for long-haul flights.”

So will it revolutionize the airline industry?  That remains to be seen.  Passengers will have to wait a long time to see seats like this on their next flight.  But Lee thinks there's a market.  

Paperclip is currently seeking partners to develop the product, and Lee predicts its maiden voyage taking place as early as 2017.