This Woulda Been A GREAT April 1st Story
The following is the
kind of story that makes you immediately check the byline date to
make sure it's not April Fools Day -- yup, that was almost four
weeks ago (or 48 weeks in the future -- ANN already has some great
ideas for next year's issue.)
But nope, this one seems for real. According to no less an
authority than the New York Times, Airbus has been quietly looking
into the idea of offering standing room only "seats" on its largest
jets, in order to squeeze out the maximum amount of
"To call it a seat would be misleading," Volker Mellert, a
physics professor at Oldenburg University in Germany, told the
From a purely financial perspective, the idea of using padded
"backboards" equipped with harnesses to hold passengers firmly to
their... vertical slabs... makes sense. Airlines have been
subscribing to the "more passengers, less room" notion for awhile
By using newer seats with thinner seatbacks -- which should,
theoretically, provide more legroom to current seating
configurations -- to justify adding more rows instead, many
airlines have been able to pack in the passengers like so many
But at least those were... you know, seats.
Airbus has reportedly
pitched the idea to several Asian carriers, although none have
agreed to the notion just yet. By utilizing the SRO option, an
airline could reportedly offer the full 853-passenger configuration
for Airbus's A380 superjumbo, while still offering three-class
seating (the current maximum for the A380 is for all-coach-class
An additional six "seats" could also be fitted to a typical
Boeing 737, according to the Times, for a total of 156 -- and as
many as 12 could be added on a Boeing 757 for a total of 200.
For their part, Airbus denies the rumor. "Our passengers and
customers want more and more comfort," said Airbus spokeswoman
Barbara Kracht. "We're going in the direction of more comfort, not
in that direction."
True, passengers want greater comfort... but airlines want
greater capacity, and it's not the passengers who buy jets.
Our bold prediction: look for the new "Meathook" class on some
overseas carriers, at least, within the next few years.