Since the introduction of different classes on commercial aircraft, the front of the plane has been an elusive area to most. What goes on behind those closed curtains conjures ludicrous images of butlers and champagne fountains to most.
In fact, airlines have used their premium flagship products for marketing for years, hoping that its halo effect would entice more consumers across all cabin classes, as the association to the First-Class product was enough for many to part with their cash, dreaming of a cheeky upgrade.
However, with the rise of the all-aisle business class product, and now with doors, the benefits of First Class as a separate cabin class become more questionable. True exclusivity, privacy, space and dining are some of the only real benefits now, which doesn’t often equate to the price tag they come with.
What if the needs of passengers looking for exclusivity, space or privacy could benefit from a space onboard that suits their needs, without the label of it being First Class? That’s what Paperclip Design in Hong Kong have considered in their latest concept, hot off the heels from their Butterfly seat design.
At first what appears like an unusual use of space, this fan-shaped multi-purpose layout offers flexibility that many other competing suites can’t match. “Peacock is not a first-class suite. It is neither business class, premium economy, nor multi-room “residence” suite — it is all of them at the same time,” state Paperclip Design.
While eyes recently have been focussed on the narrow-body, this product is geared firmly towards flagship wide-body aircraft. Peacock is as a fluid and space-efficient layout that allows instant transformation among a variety of configurations to create unique products that suit a wide spectrum of market, potentially opening up a series of new revenue opportunities that come with it.
The layout includes two centrally located toilets which create a ‘backstage’ zone for the galley and crew rest, allowing the rest of the space to be configured in a series of innovative ways, including a 3 room suite including living room, bathroom and bedroom, as well as a separate changing area mirroring the offering found on Etihad’s Residence.
Alternatively, four 2-seater suites sit somewhere in the middle of the configuration, which would be the equivalent LOPA for the same real estate usually afforded by traditional First Class cabins.
However, taking it to the other extreme, there’s the family approach, where bunkbeds could also be installed, brings the same suite occupancy up to 4 passengers (2 adults and 2 kids) making the occupancy of this fluid space flex from 2 passengers up to 16 passengers depending on the airline’s requirement or desire.
While this shows great flexibility, it’s most likely going to be utilised as a first class product, with the ability to have two guests in each suite. Similar to how Etihad priced its Residence, you paid for the suite, not per passenger. This will make First Class suddenly more appealing to luxury travellers, who combined may find such a product more affordable.
This approach would also allow true First Class passengers the ability to enjoy more space and comfort than a traditional First Class seat.
The design certainly has a premium aesthetic, akin to a luxury private cinema, thanks to the introduction of softer material finishes. “Full-height curtains are chosen over doors to allow multiple occupants under FAA regulations. Furthermore, as doors are required to be see-through, curtains become the better choice in blocking lights and sounds, letting passengers gain full control of their own experience and schedule without disturbing others.”
I love it because this isn’t innovation for innovation’s sake but actually responds to potential future travel trends, and I certainly see the potential as a passenger, but will we see this coming to any aircraft soon? It’s a little too early to tell, but certainly we can see huge potential here. But this is the tip of an iceberg, where the industry will start to see the increase of multi-purpose spaces, mirroring the rest of the travel industry, maximising the flexibility of the vehicle, a problem that Paperclip Design has certainly created a niche in solving for aircraft.