Every time I fly commercial lately, I get the sense that either I’m getting fatter or the seats are getting smaller. So I’m thrilled to report that my girth is not expanding (gym three times a week), it is in fact the seating space that is shrinking, so reports the New York Times today:
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.An extra seat here and there is almost expected these days as Big Oil robs us blind with Jet A prices that are through the roof. But this is nothing compared to the idea that some Asian carriers are proposing to take full advantage of the new Airbus A380:
Asian carriers, by utilizing a standing-room-only option, would force passengers to be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal. This would maximize payloads because a typical economy class seat now weighs 74 to 82 pounds.Now had I read this on some fringe web site, I’d blow it clean off and move along, nothing to see here. But friends, this is being reported by the NEW YORK TIMES, still considered by many as a legit source of news. So I have to believe they had someone actually fact check a story that is this nuts.
According to the report, the FAA does not mandate that a passenger be in a sitting position for takeoffs and landings; only that the passenger be secured. Seating must comply only with the agency's rules on the width of aisles and the ability to evacuate quickly in an emergency.
So you can bundle people like cord wood, strap them to pallets and load them with a forklift if you wish…so long as they don’t bounce around in moderate turbulence.
Yes, this is pretty far out there, and yes, the Asian carriers are just talking about this for short hauls between their overpopulated big cities. As a proud aviator, I sincerely hope that if that day ever comes, I’ll be long gone…off flying with Lindbergh and Papa Louie.