Unless you're lucky enough to fly first- or business-class on a regular basis, you're probably well-acquainted with the stifling sorrows of the economy cabin: small seats, narrow aisles, not much leg room, and even less shoulder room.
Alireza Yaghoubi certainly was. Yaghoubi is an undergraduate student in Malaysia, where he studies engineering. About a year ago, he started sketching out plans for a line of new-fangled, endlessly swiveling, ergonomic airline super chairs – replacements for the old-fashioned numbers that were, as he put it, "far from being in sync with today’s technology."
Had Yaghoubi simply drawn these plans on the back of the napkin, we might never have heard of him or AirGo. But instead, he submitted them to the James Dyson Award committee, which issues prizes to particularly innovative student engineers around the world. A few bloggers reported on the AirGo idea, and then a few more, and by early Wednesday afternoon, Yaghoubi was on his way to being Internet famous. (Although he still appears to have only a couple followers on Twitter.)
In his application, Yaghoubi noted that AirGo was essentially an attempt to democratize the seating process – all passengers, he wrote, have the right to a consistent experience. "No matter what other passengers do, a passenger should receive the very same services he/she was promised," he added. He continues:
Therefore in an AirGo cabin, you have an independent space for your seat and for your carry-on bag as well. The back support is made of flexible, but strong nylon mesh which readily takes the shape of your body to avoid fatigue and additionally prevents sweating. Unlike older designs, keeping such seats clean is as easy as replacing this recyclable net. A set of 3 motors gives you the ability to customize the seat based on your posture to avoid neck and back pain. Instead of having a footrest on someone else’s seat, the footrest is now part of your seat and can be controlled to maximize comfort.
Gothamist says AirGo seats would only take up 16 percent more space than regular airline seats, which ain't half bad, when you think of it. We're also especially fond of Yaghoubi's idea to include independent touch screens on each seat, both as controllers for the various seat functions, and as entertainment hubs.
No word yet on whether any of the major airlines are considering installing the AirGo system on their jets.
But we're not holding our breath.