19 October 2019
Standing room only: If Ryanair's Michael O'Leary will have his way. Photo: BBC News
Standing room only: If Ryanair's Michael O'Leary will have his way. Photo: BBC News

Bicycle-like airline seat: Will this ever fly?

As if flying economy is not bad enough, Airbus has thought of a way to make it even worse. 

According to Los Angeles Times, the France-based plane maker is seeking a patent for a new design of passenger seats. It pretty much looks like a row of bicycle seats with small backrests — there’s no tray table, no headrest and very little legroom. The seats, which are fastened to a horizontal bar, can retract to increase space when not in use.

Apparently, the idea is to pack in more passengers onto the plane, and more passengers per flight will mean more profits.

Says the patent application: “In effect, to increase the number of cabin seats, the space allotted to each passenger must be reduced.”

It also says that the design is intended for low-cost airlines on short-haul flights of less than a few hours.

Airbus officials say the patent application does not mean the seats will be used.

“Many, if not most, of these concepts will never be developed, but in case the future of commercial aviation makes one of our patents relevant, our work is protected,” Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn was quoted as saying. “Right now these patent filings are simply conceptual.”

The idea may look absolutely crazy for now, but with airlines cutting their fares to stay in competition and the price of jet fuel soaring, who knows if such a design will become a reality in the near future?

In fact, why provide seats at all? Michael O’Leary, chief of Irish budget airline Ryanair, says his company is considering vertical seats akin to bar stools with seatbelts.

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We should feel fortunate: The economy class of the new Airbus A350 XWB. Photo: AFP

Here’s hoping this idea never turns into reality. Photo: LA Times