People with disabilities often avoid air travel because of barriers to access. One of the most significant of these barriers is the dehumanizing process that airlines use to accommodate those with wheelchairs. In order to board, passengers must first transfer into an airport-owned wheelchair that is narrow enough to navigate the aisle of a plane. Then, they move from that temporary chair into the flight seat. Studies have indicated that wheelchairs are often damaged in the process, and, more seriously, Passengers of Restricted Mobility (PRM) experience injuries when transferring between seats. In addition, PRM have limited access to on-board restrooms and do not have the space to allow for extension that powered wheelchairs offer
These components of flight constitute not only an arduous process, but one that leads to people feeling less independent and included.
Enter the work of Molon Labe Seating. The Denver-based company unveiled a prototype for a new airline seat that would allow PRMs to fly in their own wheelchairs.
Molon’s design uses a Side-Slip Seat design as its foundation. This design was then modified from fitting a standard economy-class triple seat to working with an economy-class double seat.
Allowing Disabled Passengers to Fly in Their Own Wheelchairs
Molon’s product would permit airlines to transform a normal economy-class seat into a 36”-wide space that can accommodate and secure any kind of wheelchair in place. The design incorporates a Q-Straint wheelchair docking system, which is widely used in public transportation systems.
The product would permit airlines to incorporate wheelchair-accommodation services without sacrificing any seats on their planes, which has been a drawback of previous solutions to accessibility issues. For the first time, PRMs might soon be able to fly commercially in their own wheelchairs, allowing for a more comfortable, autonomous, and relaxing trip.