Would coffee shop seating make airline travel more productive?

airplanes parked on tarmac
Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / Contributor (Getty Images)

As we cautiously move out of pandemic mode and revisit things like business travel to please our corporate overlords, designers are trying to find ways to wring productivity from our sedentary hours on a flight. Students and teachers at the University of Cincinnati along with Boeing and The Live Well Collaborative banded together and designed an airplane cabin called “The Coffee House Cabin,” giving passengers a dedicated workspace and personal space, according to travel site The Points Guy.

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If you take a look at the design proposed in the article, it swaps out the middle row of seats down the center of the plane cabin with a series of four-person tables, meaning two people sit on each side facing each other to do their work. “Part of its design appeal is that it suits the style of ‘coffee shop culture’ that many in the workforce are used to,” writes Mike Avila for TPG. Honestly, flying is already such a pain in the ass that having to stare at a stranger on their laptop doesn’t sound all that appealing to me, especially if I’m traveling solo. The seats would rotate to face forward and the tables would fold up for takeoff and landing—which is good, because I have a weird habit of falling asleep immediately after takeoff and would probably slump right over onto the desk.

This design won a Crystal Cabin Award, an international competition celebrating aircraft interior innovation. Right now, The Coffee House Cabin is still conceptual, meaning you won’t be seeing these planes in person anytime soon. I could definitely picture this being a hit with suits and ties who all have the title of Vice President of Something Very Specific That Sounds Like No Fun. At least in the space-age future when this is implemented, you’ll be able to mean mug at your fellow passenger for bringing that room-temperature tuna salad sandwich aboard while tossing back a tiny bottle of overpriced Smirnoff.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

brickhardmeat
Brick HardMeat

One of the few silver linings of flying - cramming myself into a metal tube to defy the laws of god and nature while breathing in via recycled air the germs and BO of everyone else trapped with me - is that I get to space the fuck out and watch movie after movie and not feel bad about it. I’m not looking for ways to be extra productive while flying. If anything, I’m telling people “I’m sorry, I was travelling” when they come knocking for those TPS reports. I’ve tried to be productive while flying; no quality work comes out of that. For christ’s sake, outfit the plane with whatever movies people want to watch and give us enough space and legroom and I might consider flying more than once a year.