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Amy McKeever
February 22, 2016

Airbus may have found a solution to the insufferable wars over airplane seats and passenger sizes.

Consumerist reports that the manufacturer recently filed a patent for airplane bench seating that can be reconfigured to provide more flexibility to suit travelers’ needs — whether that’s a need for more space or for more convenient family seating arrangements.

This new patent transforms bucket seats into a bench with adjustable seat belts and armrests that keeps sitting three across with an armrest in between each person as an option, but not the only option. As diagrams in the patent show, it would also be possible to create two larger seats with a wider armrest in between (which would obviously be a good solution for larger passengers or just anyone who wants a little more room). Or, flight attendants could rearrange the seat belts to allow two small children to sit between two adult passengers on the same bench without any arm rests.

But don’t get too excited about not having to fight over that wider armrest or more luxurious butt space just yet. Consumerist points out that these flexible seating arrangements are “likely being seen as something that airlines could use as an upsell.” In other words, any extra comfort you might derive from this re-configurable bench seat is likely to come at a price.

And in other seating news, The Daily Mail reported earlier this month that Airbus has also patented a design for airplane seats with storage compartments. In those designs, passengers could lift up their seat cushions and place their carry-on bags within—which seems fine until you realize that the design also necessitates an elimination of the space underneath each seat that travelers usually use to stretch their legs during flights.

That said, The Daily Mail notes that Airbus “has patented a number of futuristic concepts that may never materialise,” including a virtual reality helmet. So stay tuned to find out what, if anything, becomes of these new designs.

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