Brace yourselves – literally. The Italian-based Aviointeriors introduced a prototype of almost-vertical airline seats this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference, which wraps up in Long Beach, California today.
Conceived as an additional, cheaper option for flyers on short shuttle flights, the seats (dubbed the “SkyRider”) mildly resemble saddles and would give passengers just 23 inches between their chairs and the seats in front of them. Aviointeriors says that the “ultra-high density seating” contraptions are similar to riding a motor scooter, and that passengers would not actually be standing – which almost makes the whole proposition worse. To us, standing upright is decidedly more comfortable than squatting through turbulence and rough landings.
Not surprisingly, penny-pinching European budget carrier Ryanair has already considered a standing-room-only section on its shorter flights across Europe (the notoriously cheap Ireland-based airline has also floated the idea of pay-to-use toilets, charged-for online check-ins, and sold smoke-free cigarettes on-board). If the SkyRider or another vertical design passes muster with the Irish Aviation Authority, Ryanair tickets could go for as little as $6.50 each way in the standing section.
Stateside, the predictions are murkier. It could take a while for the Federal Aviation Administration to approve the design – after all, the National Transportation Safety Board doesn’t even want toddlers on parents’ laps during take-offs. But should the seats pass safety tests, our bets are on Spirit Airlines to snap up the first shipment. The only question: Would you buy a ticket?