Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue April 26 2016

The 'Waterfront Seat' Will Wow Today’s High-Tech Flyers

Airlines & Airports | Paul Thompson | April 26, 2016

The 'Waterfront Seat' Will Wow Today’s High-Tech Flyers

Photo courtesy of Formation Design Group

Every once in a while, a truly groundbreaking innovation finds its way out of the stacks of outrageous airline industry patents, and actually sees the light of day.

For example, years ago, British Airways introduced the industry’s first lie-flat seats — and that breakthrough can now be seen on nearly every international airline in both Business and First Class. But the latest dream-come-true is a seat than can be controlled with your own tablet or smartphone.

Meet the Waterfront Seat, a collaboration of some of the top firms in aviation cabin design. These firms include Panasonic Avionics, B/E Aerospace, Formation Design Group, and Teague. Waterfront has all of the bells and whistles of a First Class seat, but it’s a Business Class seat. Waterfront’s features include aisle access for every seat, plus a door, offering privacy not found in other Business Class seats. Admittedly, one of my biggest frustrations (and definitely the same for other fliers) when flying overnight is the frequent foot traffic up and down the aisles while trying to sleep.

READ MORE: Is JetBlue MINT Causing a Premium Cabin War?

For your entertainment, your seat will feature a 24” 4K screen — which seems HUGE when it’s only a few feet from your face, and is huge in comparison to almost everything else installed on airplane seats out there. In addition the 4K monitor will be a huge step forward. Most airlines don't even have Hi-Def screens for the library of movies and shows at your fingertips.

The seat becomes a fully flat bed, and at 79 inches long, it will be comfy for even the tallest travelers. And speaking of comfort — these seats have individual heating and cooling functions for each passenger. Depending on the time of day, flying up front can actually be quite uncomfortable, even in those plush seats. Because of the direction of flight and the sun’s radiation, one side of the plane is always warm, and one is always cooler. And while airlines provide blankets for the cold folks, there is not much those of us on the warm side can do to cool ourselves while still looking presentable, as we should in Business Class. The trouble is because most of the front cabins on todays’ new wide-body jets do not have air vents at each seat.

The best function about this new seat is that you’ll be able to control all seat functions, including shows, seat position, and even heating and cooling airflow, with your smartphone or tablet, via an app. The newest seats on the market currently have the ability to change almost everything by a hand-held device, but that controller is still hard-wired to the plane with a cord. The seat even features an inductive charging station for those with capable devices, and multiple USB ports.

Airlines will love the fact that Waterfront weighs 12 percent less than most other Business Class seats, and also has 15 percent less parts. The weight savings is huge, because the lower weight makes it cheaper for the airline to operate a flight with those seats. And the reduction in the number of parts means things are less likely to break, and are more easily accessible if they do.

READ MORE: Five Reasons Everyone Should Fly Business Class at Least Once

Although it made its first public appearance in January at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Waterfront seat is not expected to appear on planes until around 2019, with Boeing’s new 777-8 and 777-9. Waterfront is not only a next generation premium seat, it’s also designed to meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy travelers. 


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