Convertible sofa beds could be the future of airplane seating


Flying could become like couch-surfing in the sky.

Sardine-can airplane seating may not become the norm as AI predicted. An Italian aerospace company has designed a convertible “sofa-bed”-style business class seat, which could transform the face of air travel.

It’s “a sofa that with a simple mechanical movement becomes a bed,” advertises designer Optimares, an Italian Aerospace company, on their site.

Dubbed the “SoFab,” their design will debut next month at the 2024 RedCabin Awards, which recognizes airline industry innovations that address problems like sustainability, comfort, space, and cost.

The appeal of the SoFab — which is currently up for a sustainability award from RedCabin — perhaps lies in its simplicity.

Unlike the traditional reclining seat, this state-of-the-art arrangement doesn’t go back and is instead connected to a cushioned legrest with a second ottoman beneath.

Flyers access the latter manually similar to a hotel sofa bed.

Like a clown car of comfort, this seemingly minimalist mechanism provides a bed surface area that is “25% greater than comparable high-end business class seats,” according to Optimares.

The bed measures nearly 40 inches wide and 78 inches long — just several inches shorter than a standard king-size bed. It’s also just one-inch shy of the bed in Qatar Airways QSuite, which is often considered the gold standard of luxury airline accommodations.

The SoFab’s extra space also enables the flyer to sleep in the position of their choosing — back, side, front, curled up or stretched out — while an extra cushion enhances the comfort, per the site.

In addition, the lack of mechanical bells and whistles mitigates the “risk that there will be a seat malfunction,” the site reads.

“This ensures a high level of risk-free seat availability and little on-board maintenance,” Optimares writes.

Other purported perks of this transforming mattress include a privacy divider, ample seat storage, a 21-inch inflight entertainment monitor, and a table that transforms out into a full, restaurant-style meal table.

This can also be folded in half to be used as a “cocktail side table.”

Despite all the amenities, this seat is only 110-132 pounds — about a hundred pounds lighter than some business class seats.

These fewer pounds mean burning less fuel — and therefore less cash — according to Optimares, which uses recyclable, sustainable materials to manufacture its business class seats.

As of yet, the cutting-edge transformer seat has yet to be introduced to any airline.