Saddles in the sky: another method of packing people into planes, sardine-style, makes a debut

A little over a year ago the CEO of RyanAir made a bit of a splash when he suggested that he’d like to create a “standing-room only” section of his planes in an effort to maximize his load factor. Now, it seems, there’s an Italian design company that’s proposing something to get that closer to accomplished:

An Italian aircraft interiors company called Aviointeriors is proposing a new semi-standing ‘seating’ configuration that airlines could use to create a ‘basic’ class to maximize passenger count and profits, while lowering ticket prices.

The company says that its saddle-like SkyRider chairs can be stacked together with only 23 inches of legroom between them – compared to the 31 inch minimum typically found in coach today. It compares their level of comfort to sitting on a motor scooter.

Check out the picture at the story I’ve linked. Describing the seat as a “saddle” is a fair assessment. It should be noted that I consider this approach to be a vast improvement over the “chain yourself to a bar stool” approach suggested last year. The passenger is in direct contact with a solid seating structure and it would appear that the stability provided is equal to (superior to?) that of a normal seat.

Don’t get me wrong. Being packed in there situated inside 2 feet of the row in front of and behind you doesn’t sound pleasant at all and I would very likely avoid such flights myself. Bear in mind, 1 thing, however. The United States is a very large country in terms of physical size. I remember talking with a European counterpart a few years ago and discussing holiday plans. I told him I was going to visit my family in Ohio and, given that we were driving with a young child aboard, it would likely take us about 8-10 hours total transit time. He was shocked. You literally could not go in any direction from his office for 10 hours and remain inside his country. When I told him that you couldn’t go 10 hours from here in the DC area and make it to even the halfway point across our country he was astonished. He’d never grasped how much landmass we have here.

By the same token, I tend to forget that flights in Europe – particularly on those remaining inside a given country – are very short by our standards. Touching on RyanAir for a moment, I note that they have a flight from Cork, Ireland (near the southern tip of the country) to Dublin (on the east coast and close to the northern area where Belfast is) that’s scheduled for 50 minutes of flight time. You pretty much can’t get a flight that runs longer than an hour and still be in Ireland. A flight from Knock near the west coast of Ireland all the way across to London is just a bit over an hour. That’s like flying from here to Norfolk, VA. Could I sit on a scooter for a trip that lasted about an hour? Sure, I could do that. And if that’s the market they’re looking for, then that’s acceptable. Is it marketable? Only time will tell.