Standing Room Section for Planes? Will it fly?

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    A paper published this week concludes that a cabin dedicated to standing only passengers “has a potential to be applied by low-cost airlines servicing short-haul flight markets.

    Sounds like just the recipe for Ryanair, Spirit Airlines and Air Asia! It brings a whole new meaning to the term “cattle class“!


    F. I. Romli et al in the International Journal of Engineering and Technology, suggest that by installing a “standing seat“, airlines could fit 21 per cent more passengers into a cabin. The distance between seats could be reduced from the usual 30″ to a mere 23″. By removing the overhead bins and placing them on the side, airlines could maximise the number of standing passengers by installing the vertical seats as close to the cabin wall as possible.

    Example of a “standing seat” known as the “Skyrider”

    The low cost Chinese carrier Spring Sirlines has considered standing room sections. They have said “one of their motivations was to make the operation of air transportation more flexible and affordable like using the public bus.”

    The authors of this week’s study conclude that “the flight ticket price can be reduced by as much as 17% from the currently offered by the low-cost carrier” and for a “full-service airline, the price difference could be as much as 44% lower for certain flight routes“.

    The factors that would count against a standing only seat are:

    1. Safety considerations
    2. Passenger comfort
    3. Passenger interest

    1. To tackle safety, the authors note that the cabin needs to be evacuated “within the allowable time limits during any emergency cases.” and the “seat” must satisfy design requirements for aircraft seats.

    2. The study suggests that the limit for a passenger in this seat would be a three hour flight.

    3. The final question is will passengers be attracted to the concept? Jean Medina, spokeswoman for Airlines for America, the US airline industry trade group said: “Airline customers ultimately determine what works in the market, voting with their wallet every day,…and comfort is high among drivers of their choice.

    While researching this post, however, I found a number of polls on websites that asked “Would you stand on a flight for a cheaper airfare?” Overwhelmingly, 70 to 80 percent of respondents said “no“. However, 20 to 30 percent said “yes“. I, know enough backpackers and students who would sacrifice a seat for a hop across Europe, the USA and Asia if it meant saving a few more dollars. Just give them wifi and they would be happy! There may indeed be a market there?

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