Paperclip armrest, winner of a 2014 Crystal Cabin Award. Image via Paperclip.

APEX Insight: Three armrest concepts shortlisted for the Crystal Cabin Award are optimizing the space between the seats with products that offer flexibility for airlines and privacy for passengers.

There’s room for more elbow room, even in a high-density cabin. Designers are rethinking the armrest to make it more adaptable to different cabin configurations and to accommodate two elbows instead of one. Here are three concepts that were shortlisted for the Crystal Cabin Award.

Image via: ComFly

Image via ComFly.

Extending an Arm(rest)

Aircraft cabins are flexible. Seat pitch is flexible. So why aren’t armrests? ComFly’s MARE (Movable Armrest) addresses this very issue with an armrest that slides out two inches and can be adjusted according to seat pitch for short- and long-haul flights. It “permits easy access for passengers without adding a discrete latch between two seats with a short pitch, allowing major comfort with a lengthened [armrest],” the Italy-based aircraft seating manufacturer explained.

Putting an End to “ArmRestling”

When it comes to armrests, no one really likes to share. Prism Pty Ltd’s Wishbone Armrest is a regular-sized armrest that splits into two, giving passengers just enough surface area to support their elbows. “The concept maximizes the existing space to provide a significantly improved ergonomic position without taking up any more space,” said the inventor, Michael Cummins.

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Image via Prism Pty Ltd.

It could take years before any of the above concepts make their way to the aircraft seat. Arthur W. Chang took matters into his own hands by designing a sort of Knee Defender for the elbows – only this one will help you make friends, not enemies.


Soarigami 1

Image via Soarigami.

Soarigami, the name of the company and the patent-pending product, is a foldable armrest attachment made of recycled plastic that puts a small divider up between you and your neighbor while providing a ledge on both sides to rest your elbow on. It’s even styled as a piece of airmail in the form of a paper airplane. In 2015, it took home the first place IATA Passenger Innovation Award. “Our product ends the awkward fight for the armrest, resulting in a win-win situation,” said Chang. “It is an excellent conversation starter that leads to a more pleasant experience for all.”