Airline passengers have been living with the threat of vertical seats since 2003, when Airbus created the first seat that involved standing or perching. The plan for the seats would be for airlines to allow more people onto the plane, and therefore offer those seats at a substantially reduced cost. The idea has come and gone several times in the years since and right now that seems to be on an upswing due to a new design that was introduced last year…
History Of Stand Up Seats
After Airbus’ creation, it started pitching the idea to Asian carries in 2006. None took the bait, although Spring Airlines, from China, did express some interest.
Ryanair considered selling “standing room only,” described as “barstools with seatbelts” for £5 (this was during the same time that they were considering charging for lavatory use). According to The Guardian, an unnamed regulator stopped that plan in 2012 by refusing an application for test flights.
Italian seat design company AvioInteriors designed a thinner, perching seat design that they called the SkyRider. It was described as an experience similar to riding a horse. It was not approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Australian budget airline, Tiger Airways, considered the idea of a “standing only” option for its passengers, while a regional Russian airline was said to have carried standing passengers on a chartered flight that year.
Airbus filed a patent for a saddle-like seat.
Chinese airline Spring Airlines again expressed interest in using the vertical seat concept for consumer flights, but to date, nothing has happened.
Budget airline VivaColombia considered plans to remove all regular seats from its planes. The company’s founder and CEO William Shaw told the Miami Herald the airline was looking into vertical travel options. He said: “There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up – we’re very interested in anything that makes travel less expensive.”
AvioInteriors was back in the saddle again (you see what I did there?), and introduced the SkyRider 2.0. The 2.0 has passengers in a more upright position than in its original design, but also has extra padding, as well as poles from floor to ceiling for more stability. The seats were unveiled at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg that year.
Always the innovator, SkyRider 3.0 was introduced by AvioInteriors at Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, and was also shown at the Paris Air Show. This newest design removed the angle from the seat and was more of a “saddle” design.
Response To Stand Up Seats
Although some airlines have expressed interest over the years, fortunately, no regulatory committee has ever strongly considered these kinds of seats:
In response to the original SkyRider design in 2010, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration said, “While it’s not impossible, it’s difficult to conceive of a standing seat that would be able to meet all applicable FAA requirements and still be cost-effective.”
When VivoColombia announced its 2017 plans to have passengers stand on their planes, Civil Aviation Director Alfredo Bocanegra told RCN radio that he didn’t approve. “People have to travel like human beings,” he said. “Anyone who had ridden on public mass transport knows that it’s not the best when you’re standing.”
Aircraft specialists have pointed out a number of stumbling blocks that range from potential evacuation delays due to limited space, and the fact that there’s no room under the seats for personal items.
Response to the SkyRider 3.0 was not mixed at the Paris Air Show. Andreas Spaeth, an aviation journalist from Germany, said the seat was a “no go” for a flight that’s more than 10 minutes. Aviation journalist Kathryn Creedy called the Skyrider seat a “torture chamber.” Another user asked if the seat should even exist.
Besides the authorities who would have to give permission for these seats so far saying no from a safety and regulatory point of view, there are all the human issues to consider:
- The seats would not be appropriate for many people with disabilities. Someone who is a lower limb amputee or who is a paraplegic or quadriplegic, for example, wouldn’t be able to use perch/vertical/stand-up seats and therefore wouldn’t have the same opportunity for such lower priced fares as those who were typical size and able-bodied – would that be an Air Carrier Access Act issue? (ACAA governs accessibility when flying)
- What about children and very short people whose legs didn’t reach the ground? Or overweight people who would need to maneuver in and out of a much more narrow seat width?
- There’s the question of increased risk of leg swelling and even DVT (deep vein thrombosis – a blood clot) from standing for so long.
- And hello…crotch sweat – do you really want to be sitting that way in a place where someone else just sat that way for however many hours? Ew.
So for now, we appear to be safe – even with AvioInteriors’ SkyRider 3.0, no regulatory committee has given the OK for these kinds of seats, and no airline is expressing interest (at least publicly) at this time. We seem to be safe, at least for now.
So tell me…if vertical seats were ever approved an introduced, would you consider using them? Would you – wait for it – stand for it?
*** Thank-you to Hillary J. for her help with verbiage 😉
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary