Seats are getting smaller and smaller on airplanes. Last month, American Airlines announced it was decreasing the legroom on some economy seats by another two inches. VivaColombia, a budget airline, is considering the ultimate shrink: eliminating seats altogether.
VivaColombia’s founder and CEO William Shaw told the Miami Herald, “There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up. We’re very interested in anything that makes travel less expensive.”
Though it seems radical, the idea of standing while flying has been around for a while. Airbus pitched the idea back in 2003, and Ryanair proposed implementing it in 2010. The most popular design for seatless flights is called the airliner saddle seat. The name of the seat really says it all; passengers would lean up against the back of the seat, settle their legs on the saddle, and get ready for takeoff. Here’s a design illustration of the saddle seat from Airbus:
Though these seats may sound like a way to make flying even more miserable, there is a silver lining: These flights would be cheap — like, really, cheap. When Ryanair announced its plan for these seats, flights would have only cost $6. Shaw thinks that low price tag will be attractive to VivaColombia’s customers, too. “Who cares if you don’t have an in-flight entertainment system for a one-hour flight?” he told the Miami Herald. “Who cares that there aren’t marble floors...or that you don’t get free peanuts?” (Excuse me? We've never seen marble floors in an airplane.)
Though several airlines have considered using vertical seats, they have yet to take to the sky. Air regulators haven’t approved the vertical saddle seats in any country. So if you want to take a standing-room-only flight, it might be a while. Until then, enjoy a little bit of legroom and a bag of peanuts.