Stand-up seating is to the airline industry what the Loch Ness Monster is to marine biology: A mythical beast that may or may not exist.
And just like the Loch Ness Monster, stand-up seating occasionally pokes its head above water to remind people of the possibility of its existence. Sometimes it’s European low-cost carrier Ryanair ginning up the press with blather about replacing seats with stools. And sometimes it’s something more believable, like a seat design company releasing images of a newly patented stand-up airline seat configuration.
Well, the latter is exactly what Travel Weekly is reporting. Italian seat design company Aviointeriors “has designed and patented a stand-up seat,” according to TW, “and the company says carriers around the world—including U.S. airlines—have ‘strong interest.'”
Wait … for real?
The seats reportedly have 23 inches of seat pitch, and come with built-in shelves for storing bags under the seat in front of you. They also look terribly uncomfortable, and, judging by the photos on Aviointeriors’ website, would force passengers to assume a combined stand/squat position while “seated.” Gaetano Perugini, Aviointeriors’ research and development director, described the seating position as a “dynamic upright” position, and said it’s “not only comfortable but also very healthy.”
As for airlines being interested—well, of course they are. Any airline would be “interested” in the revenue prospects of cramming more seats onto its planes. Heck, I’m “interested” when I get mail telling me I’ve won some too-good-to-be-true contest prize, even though I can’t recall entering the contest. But that doesn’t mean I open the envelope (it goes straight into recycling). Same is true for airlines: The fact that they’re interested tells us nothing about their willingness to commit to a highly controversial, likely unpopular seating configuration.
Quite frankly, I have a hard time seeing any airline that cares about its reputation doing this. Which means Ryanair might do it, and maybe Spirit, but probably few others. For most airlines, there’s simply too much risk. What if, say, Delta took the plunge and added a few rows of these seats, but no one else did? That’s a PR and customer relations disaster.
My hunch? Following this brief sighting, stand-up seating will slip back beneath the waves and fade again into mythology.