Inflight lounges aren’t normally the domain of Economy Class. But Boeing’s new ‘Perch’ concept for the 787 Dreamliner aims to bring a little more luxury for those flying down the back. At first glance, it’s not entirely unlike the Wellbeing Zone planned for Qantas’ incoming Airbus A350s. But Boeing’s design occupies a smaller footprint: important when you’re talking about an Economy Class amenity.

At the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Boeing had a mock-up of Perch on display. Naturally, I had to try it out.

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The basics of Boeing’s 787 Perch concept

Boeing’s idea behind Perch is that it could exist without reducing the number of Economy seats on board. Instead, it sits where most airlines would typically place a galley, by door two. This puts it in the centre of the cabin. And as it turns out, there’s a lot you can do with quite a small space.

Central to the design is the name itself: Perch. The name comes from how you use the space – because you don’t sit, you perch. I’m immediately reminded of the Tube in London, which has similar edges for perching at the end of each train. This is much more comfortable, though.

The design minimises the floor space being used – again, keeping the economics of the Economy in check. But it also prevents travellers from getting too comfortable. When you consider there’d typically be 150-200 Economy flyers on a Boeing 787, it’s a subtle hint to enjoy the space and move on. Perch isn’t somewhere to spend hours away from your Boeing 787 Economy seat.

Also, recognising that space on board is still at a premium, elements of the Perch retain some of what’s needed from the galley that’d normally sit in the same place. There’s room for galley cards underneath the counter, albeit obscured slightly for aesthetics. There’s storage behind the Perch for small items as well. In the on-ground mock-up, Boeing uses glassware to illustrate. But more realistically, this is likely to be less breakable items like snacks. Especially in Economy.

Perch also serves as something of a ‘welcome’ to the Boeing 787 aircraft. Passengers using the far aisle to access their seat pass through Perch at boarding time, introducing them to the space. Those seared on the near-side aisle would still get a stickybeak on boarding.

Other uses for Perch

Perch is a little more than just a stretching space. If airlines wanted to encourage more time spent here, installing curved OLED screens overhead boosts the vibe and increases the sense of roominess. That’s complemented by a screen opposite the actual ‘perch’ for viewing while perching.

Sure, you could use the forward screen to show live TV via satellite. But it could also provide updates on the flight itself, such as when the next meal will be served and what the options are. Or, on daytime flights (and at moderate volumes!), use the screen to control the music and mood of the space.

The outer walls of Perch also provide opportunities to innovate. A vertical screen could provide similar updates on upcoming services or just remind passengers where to locate their luggage upon landing. A case could also be used to showcase duty-free items. Or on a premium-heavy aircraft where Perch sits in a higher cabin class to display the wines and spirits on offer.

For now, Perch is just an idea for the Boeing 787. Like much of what gets exhibited at AIX, it’s a glance into what travellers might get to experience years down the line. But there’s quite a long process between conceiving an idea like this and seeing it appear on a commercial flight.

One major factor is that Perch hasn’t yet received certification to fly. The process for any new seat or design concept can easily take 2-3 years. Given the mandatory lead time, I’m told that Boeing hasn’t yet signed its first airline customer for the concept. But time will tell whether long-haul Economy flying can become just that little bit better.

Also read: Qantas’ world-first Wellbeing Zone wins global award

All photography by Chris Chamberlin.

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Boeing’s new 787 Perch concept brings an inflight lounge to Economy was last modified: June 11th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin