Getting cozy and catching up on Game on Thrones can be awkward when you’re sitting in coach. Is it wrong, for instance, to watch decapitation scenes on your private screen when the eight-year-old kid sitting next to you is peering over your shoulder?
A new contraption from graduate students at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, in Israel, could nix that concern. The B-Tourist strip, as it's called (for the economy-class masses), is an elastic seat attachment that functions like a hammock for your head and neck. As with any of the merchandise at airport stores such as Brookstone, you can easily pack one in your carry-on, and attach it to the seat in front of you after take-off. The other end wraps around your headrest, creating a dual privacy screen and headrest. Plastic rings along the side are adjustable, making it easy enough to chat with airline attendants or fellow passengers, assuming you actually want to do that.
Privacy concerns are, of course, generally resolved in the grandiose cabin that is first-class, where there are fully reclining nap pods and even curtains for couples sharing double seats on overnight flights. But those amenities cost airlines millions of dollars. Fabric especially is an issue. In David Owens's recent the New Yorker article on first class seating, he writes that all fabric used must be easily replaceable, in case travelers spill red wine. Bahrain-based Gulf Air, he explains, shaved $120,000 off their fuel bill by opting for slightly thinner leather upholstery in their first-class section.
By those standards, the B-Tourist solves a few problems. The device couldn't weigh more than a few ounces, and it's designed as a traveler accessory, not a proposed addition for airline designers. DIY privacy for coach, served up.