Boeing has been granted a patent on what's possibly the answer to several questions: It's an airline seat with movable armrests that could turn 3 economy seats into 2 business-class, or could allow a thin person and a fat person to make a better...
Looking at the picture, it appears to me that the business class option is a far cry from the direction upper class has been going of late, more and more comfort. Does this mean it will be more comfortable than currently is the case for economy passengers or less comfortable for business class? Maybe the arc has peaked for upper class comfort and this indicates the start of a slide down the other side.
I would presume the wider seat arrangement would more likely be "Economy Plus" rather than business class. Say two large people buying a 3 row seat and the third seat would get squeeze down by the wider adjustment of the above. International business class nowadays is almost universally lie flat bed seats. To not have these would mean a loss of this lucrative market for the airlines.
Maybe the trend will be to 3, rather than 4 classes, with econ+ going by the wayside and the flat bed option called first. Who knows. Business started out looking something like econ+ does now. Four options seems like about 1 too many to me.
Keep in mind that the picture is the patent model...tricked out with real upholstery it may look very different. Other than fitting big people better, I think this may mainly be used on smaller airliners that fly as one- or two-class, as British Air does on a lot of European flights....business class there is pretty much just empty middle. This would allow flexibility. Be my guess...
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