Stand-up airline seats are here, but you won't use one soon

An Italian company, Aviointeriors, has designed and patented what it calls a "stand-up" airline seat, and representatives from the company have told Travel Weekly that some airlines are interested in them. But don't panic at the media reports: You won't be using them anytime soon.

The spindly-looking seats, as you can see, do not force passengers to stand fully erect. Instead, they provide for a half-sitting, half-leaning carriage, although the feet must be on the floor for it to function as designed. The "pitch," or distance between the front of the seat and the back of the next row, is only 23 inches.

Aviointeriors proposes that airlines stuff as many "SkyRider" seats into cabins that maximum occupancy rules will allow, and charge a lower price for them than is charged for traditional seats.

More passenger revenue would be good for airlines. And lower airfare could be good for consumers. But there are several significant stumbling blocks in the way of the SkyRider's eventual implementation.
  • Only the most skilled contortionist could manage to sleep in one
  • They will likely not be comfortable for long-haul flights
  • Most importantly, FAA must approve the seats before they go into service in American skies
I covered the issue last year after the Irish cheapie flyer, Ryanair, scored another cheap publicity hit by threatening to install standing-room-only areas on its aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration maintains, in its Airworthiness Standards code, Title 14, 23.785: "There must be a seat or berth for each occupant."

In addition, each passenger has to be assigned a restraint system that "must be designed to support occupants weighing at least 215 pounds." Your own two feet, then, presumably don't count, since in Aviointerior's SkyRider seats, a significant proportion of support comes from the passengers themselves.

Could the FAA change its seating codes? Of course, but not without some uproar. In addition, packing more passengers onto airplanes could be deemed a safety risk, and at the very least most airlines would have to employ more flight attendants to supervise the safety of the additional people, and that costs money.

European safety officials have already rebuffed Ryanair's earlier attempt to add standing seats, and Airbus has been trying for years to kick off legal standing-room flights in Asia, but so far, not a single Asian government has gone for the idea of cramming that many people on a plane. If you've even taken the subway in Tokyo at rush hour, that's really saying something.
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