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New aeroplane seat will allow passengers to fully recline at 30,000ft

A new plane seat design looks set to revolutionise long haul flights.


Designed for use in premium economy and business class, at the flick of a switch, the seat can be transformed from single upright seat, to four-foot ‘couch’ and even into a full length double bed.

It will allow young passengers in premium economy to lie flat, and will stagger seating to avoid the dreaded elbow clash – a very common complaint on long-haul flights.

Hong Kong designer James SH Lee of Paperclip Design, came up with the concept, named Butterfly seating, which recently one first prize at IATA’s 2014 Passenger Innovation Awards.

A business class seat in upright mode. Passengers get a spacious private suite with a seat plus a side couch and direct aisle access
The idea of Butterfly seating is to allow for individual demand of the cabin on each individual flight – despite the limited space on an aircraft.

While only the business class passengers will be able to transform their seats into a full length bed, this is the first time that premium economy travellers will have access to a ‘couch’ allowing younger passengers the chance to sleep more comfortably.

Lee told MailOnline Travel: ‘This flexibility allows airlines to make use of resource more efficiently so that the cost is lowered.

The layout maximises bed space, with the sleeping surface utilizing nearly every inch of available floor area
‘They can also react to fluctuations much quicker than before, making them much more resilient to the risks of changing market conditions.’

‘For passengers this equates to more stable fares long term, and the flexibility means more options for them.

‘In the past if the business class cabin is full, then it’s sold out. But with butterfly they can turn some premium economy seats into business class, and vice versa, if there’s a need.

At 53cm, the seating will be as wide as many current business class seats in a 777 sized cabin.

Fliers in business class can transform the seat into a large bed, accommodating various sleeping positions

In premium economy, young passengers will be able to lie flat as their seat can be transformed into a ‘couch’
The seats will also feature large cocktail trays, seat pockets on the side and an adjustable ottoman.

Meanwhile, passengers in business class will be able to transform the seat into one of the largest bed surfaces currently available.

At 195.6cm long from top-to-toe, the seat becomes a private suite including a side couch.


A graphic shows the conversion from premium economy to business class.  A mechanism that allows flight attendants to flip the window seat over, turning it into a couch.

Passengers in Business Class will be able be offered one of the largest surfaces currently available.

The designer added: ‘Academic research on convertible seating used in European short haul flights shows a 3.3 per cent increase in revenue, which is hugely significant for the airline industry which makes a net profit between zero to four per cent globally.’


‘Butterfly helps to extend this benefit to long haul markets,’ he said


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