Thomson Airways plans table seats for flying families, 'couple pods'

By Maggie Hiufu Wong, CNNUpdated 13th October 2014
Is this the dream for families traveling by air or their worst nightmare?
Thomson Airways, the third biggest airline in the UK, is considering new seating configurations that'll seat parents and kids face-to-face around a table.
Promo photos for the rear-of-the-plane concept look good, showing a relaxed mom and dad presiding over a well-behaved brood.
Families like this may actually exist, in which case Thomson is on to a winner.
Parents looking forward to corralling irksome offspring into middle seats while they binge-watch blockbuster movies may think differently.
Child-free zone and snack bar
The flying family circle setup is one of several ideas Thomson is considering for the new fleet of 47 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft it has on order.
Also on the drawing board are "couple pods," featuring a table (for champagne, according to the airline) sandwiched between two seats with mood lighting.
As a possible sop to parents deprived of their movie marathon, Thomson is also looking at on-board childcare services.
Flight attendants will be trained to engage kids with entertainments like crafts and quizzes that related to the destination.
There are plans to keep adults happy, with a "beach snack bar" in premium cabins and a zoning system deployed to create a child-free zone.
Unusual innovations
Thomson may also introduce resort concierges on board, offering recommendations about the destination. Inflight entertainment systems will allow last-minute bookings and room upgrades.
A Thomson spokeswoman told CNN that all the ideas were genuine plans that could be introduced as the new fleet is rolled out over the next five years.
She said some were already being trialed.
The airline's concepts follow a slew of other speculative in-flight innovations created by industry players attempting to raise profit margins or outdo competitors.
Air New Zealand recently touted its Skycouch -- a three-seat row that can be converted into a futon in economy class.
Manufacturer Airbus this year filed a patent for saddle seats -- an idea once floated by low-cost carrier Ryanair but largely dismissed as a marketing stunt.