If you thought your coach-class seat was just a little too cozy, those armrests just a little too soft, then you’re in luck. Flying could get even less comfortable than before.
News broke earlier this week that Airbus filed a patent for what might be the least comfortable airplane seat in the sky. The new design features saddle-like seats that can fold up when not in use. Illustrations show a three-seat configuration in which passengers would sit upright, with a small seatback supporting the lower spine. Gone are cushions, padded armrests, and tray tables. Gone, too, is personal space: The new seating plan would likely allow airlines to cram more passengers into the limited space of the cabin.
In the patent, Airbus asserts, “Reduced comfort remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours.” Says who, we wonder? Even the shortest commuter flights are already cramped and uncomfortable.
But Airbus gets at something essential in their statement by using the word “tolerable.” Airline passengers (especially those in coach) tolerate an increasing amount of discomfort, while paying ever-increasing fees, for the luxury of flight. A long time ago, “enjoyment” became “toleration.” With this new seat design, are we at the point where “toleration” becomes “outright suffering?”
Thankfully, we’ve heard whispers of this type of seat design before, and it hasn’t yet been implemented. In 2010, an Italian design firm floated the same idea with its SkyRider model, designed so that planes could fit rows 25 percent closer together, placing the passenger’s legs at an angle beneath them (not in front). The seat, which would presumably cause a fair amount of discomfort, was met with widespread criticism, and passengers were spared.
This latest indignity from Airbus also made waves online, with would-be passengers deriding its torture-device-like configuration. One commenter on the Washington Post suggested “Why not just suction cups that line the ceiling and latch onto your head? You could probably dangle 400, maybe 450 people on your average size plane. Plus any wallets or loose change that falls out of your pockets legally becomes the property of the airline, creating a new revenue stream on turbulent routes.”
Shhh. Don’t give them any ideas.
What do you think, readers? Ready to ride or this seat going too far?
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