Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Will you be standing in an airplane in the future?


Airbus is reportedly in talks with Asian airlines about the possibility of having a "standing room only" section, where instead of seats, you are buckled to a padded wall. Sounds pretty luxurious! Southwest will be all over this. Here is the article from the NY Times:

One Day, That Economy Ticket May Buy You a Place to Stand

The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How many passengers can be squeezed into economy class?

A lot more, it turns out, especially if an idea still in the early stage should catch on: standing-room-only "seats."

Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.

But even short of that option, carriers have been slipping another row or two of seats into coach by exploiting stronger, lighter materials developed by seat manufacturers that allow for slimmer seatbacks. The thinner seats theoretically could be used to give passengers more legroom but, in practice, the airlines have been keeping the amount of space between rows the same, to accommodate additional rows.

The result is an additional 6 seats on a typical Boeing 737, for a total of 156, and as many as 12 new seats on a Boeing 757, for a total of 200.

That such things are even being considered is a result of several factors. High fuel costs, for example, are making it difficult for carriers to turn a profit. The new seat technology alone, when used to add more places for passengers, can add millions in additional annual revenue. The new designs also reduce a seat's weight by up to 15 pounds, helping to hold down fuel consumption. A typical seat in economy class now weighs 74 to 82 pounds.

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