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New Airline Seat Design Offering More Legroom Is So Awful That Not Even the Airlines Are Buying It

A new standing seat could make airline travel more unpleasant than ever. Or it could be a great budget option. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Can airlines possibly make flying even worse? Yes. Yes, they can. If a litany of murdered pets, people being sucked out of shattered windows, or pervy and drunk seatmates isn’t making the skies seem very friendly, consider that — for now, anyway — at least you get to sit down. But maybe not for long.

At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2018 in Hamburg, Italian seat manufacturer Aviointeriors revealed the airline seat of the future: The SkyRider 2.0. It features a saddle-like seat and a padded back that positions travelers in an upright pose that enables them to stretch their legs throughout the entire flight — that is to say, they are basically standing.

The seat is designed to help airlines reduce the space between rows and squeeze in more passengers through "ultra-high density" seating. A pole attached to the ceiling and extra padding to lean against enhances the design..

The company says that “the SkyRider 2.0 "ensures an increased upright passenger position, allowing installation of the seat at a reduced pitch, while maintaining an adequate comfort."

But what they really mean is, airlines that install these seats can make more money.

"The design of this seat enables to increase the passenger number by 20 percent allowing increasing profits for airline companies," said a spokesperson for Aviointeriors"Furthermore, Sky Rider 2.0 weighs 50% less than standard economy class seats and the reduced number of components enable minimum maintenance costs."

So what about that SkyRider 1.0? The original design resembled a horse saddle and was not approved by the FAA, so it never got off the ground. The company claimed that travelers would love straddling their seat for hours, since cowboys are able to stay on their horses for long periods of time. The seat is targeted at planes that take shorter flights.

While the seat is new, the idea of standing flights has been around for a while.

Airbus proposed the idea of standing room flights as early as 2003. Its version featured a series of bike seats on a horizontal pole. In rows, with no division between rows, passengers would be more exposed to one another than ever.

In 2010, Ryanair considered adding standing-room-only “seating,” but that idea quickly died. "We have no plans to trial or introduce standing flights," said a Ryanair spokesperson. No other airline has introduced standing seats, either.

However, rising gas and labor prices have airlines looking for new ways to cut costs, and the new seats could be a solution to the airlines that give them a try. So far, none have signed up for the new seats.

Could the holdup be … safety?

Adding 20 percent more passengers to a plane means longer loading, unloading, and evacuation times. Additionally, standing passengers (or tightly packed seat-straddling passengers) would be jostled together during turbulent flights.

The lack of seat backs and seat belts add dangers. Not to mention the potential for bad behavior. If we our seatmates are unpleasant when we are sitting next to them, how much more congenial will we find them when standing?