Airplane seat design promises faster boarding time and roomier middle

Airplane designers have been racing to discover the next wave of revolutionary aircraft interiors.

Whether airlines want to save space, lighten their load or speed up boarding times, engineers have come up with dozens of solutions—and not all of them seem comfortable.

The latest seat design from Denver-based Molon Labe Designs claims it has the one-row-fits-all solution for airlines looking to save big money on fuel costs and make the boarding process more efficient.


The middle seat is 20 inches across. (YouTube/Molon Labe Designs)

The Side-Slip features a typical three-seat per row configuration, but, with the simple push of a button, the aisle seat glides over the middle seat creating a wider aisle—from the standard 19 inches to 41 inches.

"I was traveling a lot, and I was always running late and just wanted to get off the plane faster," Hank Scott, founder and CEO of Molon Labe Designs and inventor of the Side-Slip seat, told the Denver Post. "I just started thinking about it, and ideas popped into my head…Now the line won't stop.  Just get out of the way and let people walk around you."

Side-Slip’s seat configuration not only features an adjustable aisle seat, but the middle seat is a roomier 20 inches wide. The aisle and window seats are 18 inches wide, in line with industry averages.

The flexible seats are being targeted at lower-cost airlines making multiple trips per day, usually less than three hours. Carriers like Southwest and Frontier have cited turnaround time as a major obstacle to staying on schedule. Scott believes with more an efficient boarding and deplaning process, the Slip-Seat configuration could save these airlines big money in the long run.

The U.S. trade organization Airlines for America estimates that every minute a plane sits docked at a gate with the engine running costs about $81 to $100 in fuel and associated costs.

The Slip-Slide team conducted boarding efficiency trials with their aisle seats using the “sit anywhere” boarding method favored by Southwest and block boarding used by most carriers, with impressive results. When the sliding seats are fully folded up, boarding efficiency is improved by 4.5 minutes during random boarding and a full 6.7 minutes—or 33 percent-- for blocking boarding. If an airline performs 1,000 turnarounds a day, 6.7 minutes amounts to $670,000 saved per day—about $245 million a year.

"If you can offer a product that makes the airlines save fuel and increase revenue, and also makes the passengers more comfortable and less stressed — it's a win-win,” said Scott.

Side-Slip debuted their seats last week to hundreds of airline executives at the annual World Low Cost Airlines Congress in London. They are currently undergoing the Federal Aviation Administration's certification process.