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The seats may even be able to predict when you're getting a backache. 

Talia Avakian
May 17, 2018

Airplane seats have been known to harbor everything from bacteria to bedbugs, but one company is working on seats that would be able to disinfect themselves.

Recaro Aircraft Seating, which designs seats for airlines like Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore Airlines, is working on business class seats with a disinfectant that would keep them clean throughout each flight. This disinfectant would be able to wipe out almost every germ on the seat within seconds, the company’s CEO, Mark Hiller, told Bloomberg.

The seats will include anti-bacterial coating to help protect passengers from the bacteria found lurking on seats and on plastic surfaces near the seats, like tray tables. Since the bacteria-killing coating is so thin, it won’t impact the weight of the seats. 

Besides focusing on self-cleaning capabilities, the company is also looking to stock its seats with “wellbeing features” that would enable passengers to adjust the temperature and turn on massage settings in-flight.

This could work similarly to the company’s CL6710 business class seats. Recaro engineers created an app for these seats to allow passengers to control settings straight from their personal devices.

While specific customized features will vary depending on each airline's desires, the seats will also be able to show crew when tables are stowed and when the backrest is upright to make take-off and landing quicker, while sensors could help predict backaches and the physical condition of passengers to help crew adapt their service to meet passengers' needs. 

The company hopes to launch its new seats within the next one to two years, Hiller told T+L, though timing will also depend on the features various Recaro clients request.

As flights continue to get longer, several other manufacturers and companies have been looking for ways to bring cleaner planes to the skies. 

In 2016, Boeing unveiled self-cleaning lavatories that disinfect themselves after each use. GermFalcon currently has several domestic airlines testing out its UVC Airplane Sanitizer — a battery-powered device that can roll down aisles and kill 99.99 percent of germs in under 10 minutes using UV-C lamps — co-founder and president Elliot Kreitenberg told T+L. 

If you want to tackle your concern with cleanliness right now, or if business class isn't in the budget, here's a tip: booking early flights can expose you to fewer germs, since airlines are more likely to wipe down seats and tray tables overnight.

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