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Standing Seats: Coming Soon to an Airline Near You?

Airliners should be able to jam in 20% more passengers just by taking them from sitting to standing.

An Italian manufacturer has just released a new seat design at Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors Expo and you might have guessed that it prioritizes airline profitability over passenger comfort.

The SkyRider 2.0 takes the concept of “standing room only” to new heights – no pun intended. Designed to support an “ultra-high capacity” strategy, the seats weigh 50% less than conventional ones, and airliners should be able to jam in 20% more passengers just by taking them from sitting to standing.

That’s right, these “seats” are designed in an upright position to be installed at a reduced pitch. Metal poles between the seats secure the rows to both the ceiling and the floor, and base padding permits passengers to lean against, and be belted to, the modified structure, allowing them to take weight off their legs.

The company says these standing seats are the perfect set-up for short haul flights of an hour or less and that the resulting space savings could help reduce ticket prices for travelers who are more sensitive to costs than they are concerned about amenities.

But there are some big hurdles to overcome before this becomes a reality: After the recent tragic breakdown of a Southwest flight in mid-air where one passenger was killed, airplane safety measures are top of mind more than ever. CNN says aviation specialists have voiced concerns over evacuation challenges associated with the limited space that might come with seats like the SkyRider 2.0.

Current FAA requirements are that a fully booked passenger plane can be completely evacuated in 90 seconds or less. Increasing capacity by 20 percent without the addition of exit doors calls into question the realistic ability for airlines to hit that goal.

Additionally, the SkyRider 2.0 did have a 1.0 version, and it was never approved by the FAA. And there are several prohibitive factors that were true then and are still today: many planes are already designed to support the max number of passengers allowable for weight. Not to mention, adding additional passengers would mean adding a larger flight crew to hit regulatory ratios.

And to this I’d add – airlines: just stop. Haven’t we suffered enough?

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