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The Bulletin

New seat design makes flying more comfortable than ever

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With commercial airlines cramming their planes with more passengers, flying coach feels is feeling more and more like the cargo section.

Alireza Yaghoubi, a student at the University of Malaysia, thinks it needn't be this way. To that end, he wants to re-engineer the experience of riding economy class so that it'll feel more akin to the comforts of sitting in first class. This would include each passenger getting their own private overhead storage bin, enough room so that you wouldn't even notice the passenger in front reclining and more ergonomic tray tables that won't make you feel locked in.

His AirGo design does this by taking the basic arrangement of the main cabin and modifying it for utmost space-efficiency. Instead of being attached to the seat in front, the adjustable tray table and TV screen is re-positioned to drop down from the overhead bin, which means fewer spills or bad viewing angles. The seat pitch has been increased to 41 inches to help free up space thanks to a slimmer, streamlined construction.

“Compared to a normal economy class, AirGo uses only an additional 16 percent of floor space thanks to the new nylon mesh design which replaces the bulky cushions in current seats, Yaghoubi told ABC News. “They are cheap, durable, recyclable and more comfortable, yet they are considerably thinner.”

He adds that his setup offers many of the same benefits as first class while also being 128 percent more space-efficient. And though it takes up 16 percent more floor space, Yaghoubi thinks the costs of a trade-off this minimal can be offset by selling premium services like apps and other amenities that take advantage of this extra breathing room.

He tells ABC News:

“The big screen for example can be used to encourage passengers to purchase a few dollar applications, movies, songs, games and books that could be used on their other devices elsewhere through cloud syncing.” Yaghoubi said. “They [the passengers] can video chat with others and call home for small rates or they can choose to take part in surveys or watch advertisements to use these services free of charge. They can connect to the local network and play matches against other passengers. The possibilities are just countless.”

The AirGo design is an entry into the James Dyson design competition, which receives submissions from 18 countries. Whether or not any commercial airliner sees promise and brings Yaghoubi's idea onboard, it goes to show that even basic bare-bones flying has, dare I say, lots of room for improvement.

At the very least, it's definitely a lot more pleasant than the stand-up seating idea that discount flyer RyanAir had been mulling over.

Designs for life's comforts:

More space-efficient ideas for a crowded world:

— By on February 19, 2013, 8:46 PM PST

Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure