A premium sleeper coach service is looking to compete with airlines and improve travel in the US by merging the convenience of coach travel with the comfort of a business class suite.
Napaway founder and CEO Dan Aronov explained that the company’s goal is to provide genuine comfort, privacy, and flexibility to travelers seeking a restful and convenient alternative to air travel.
“I’d been taking coaches for a very long time,” Aronov said. “And the thought was if we can make it this comfortable while using a platform that is that convenient, it could be a really interesting marriage of those two things.”
Establishing an elevated level of passenger comfort was a top priority for Aronov, but spatial restrictions proved to be a challenge. With most premium arrangements designed for airline business class seats, adapting them for a standard size coach would require extensive and costly modification.
After searching the existing market, Aronov discovered Butterfly Flexible Seating, a Hong Kong based design and engineering group offering an award-winning and globally patented seat design. Aronov began working closely with the Butterfly Co-Founders, Creative Director James Lee and Commercial Director Lars Rinne, in an effort to create a comfortable and cost-effective seat adaptation for the coach industry.
“Initially it started with their concept and discussing if it was something that we could make work on the road,” Aronov said. “It took a fair amount of work to get that there and I’d say it’s been a partnership of working together and developing as we go.”
The final result is a personal suite measuring 5 feet by 3.3 feet and featuring 13.2 square feet of usable space. Within the suite are a set of two Butterfly seats which can both be left upright in office mode, one laid flat converting it into lounge mode, or both laid flat to create a 6.5-foot-long, 40″ wide, fully flat bed with Napaway providing an additional half-inch memory foam mattress pad. Sheets, blankets, a full-sized pillow, an amenity kit, and a pull-down screen door provide additional comfort and privacy. Two 14-inch by 13-inch fold-out desks are available for additional work or storage space.
“Dan wanted something that is also really good for business travel,” Lee said. “What we developed together was something that’s very private, but you can still turn it back into a seat so that you can have a very nice area to spread things around. It’s much easier to work for business travels.”
With a purely mechanical design, Napaway’s convertible sleeper seats don’t rely on electric power, resulting a longer lasting, more reliable system. The same feature also enables the coach (a Prevost H3) to transform the 18 flatbed suites into 36 upright seats for shorter distances.
“This flexibility allows operators to make use of the equipment much better,” Lee said. “For operators, that is a huge part of the cost and if you have a coach sitting around doing nothing during the day, it’s a waste of this resource. This design provides a lot of flexibility in that sense.”
Napaway is preparing to launch from the Mid-Atlantic this spring, with service between Washington DC and Nashville.
“Eventually we want this to be a national network, both connecting major cities with one another and offering the convenience of doing that without having to deal with all of the hassle and stresses of air travel,” Aronov said. “And also connecting secondary cities where maybe there’s not so many convenient flight options and where a lower capacity type of travel makes sense versus having to fill a 100-seat airplane.”