Standing seats would seem to be an oxymoron. If you’re standing, you’re not seated. And if you’re seated, you’re not standing. Right?
Semantics aside, who wants to remain standing throughout their next airline flight? Anybody?
Notwithstanding those and other hurdles—safety foremost among them—airlines have long salivated at the prospect of stacking passengers in the upright position, saving precious floor space and stuffing ever more paying customers onto every flight.
Shanghai-based Spring Airlines, which calls itself “China’s first and only low-cost airline—guaranteeing customers the best-value airfares in China,” is the latest carrier to give the idea serious consideration.
According to Shanghaiist.com, the airline plans to lobby government authorities to gain permission to fit its A320 planes with upright seats. A spokesperson for the airline made the following statement to China National Radio: “We need many other conditions to make it work, like working together with airplane manufacturers, getting the approval from the authorities and having the consumers accept the idea.”
Spring figures that the move would allow for a 40 percent increase in passenger capacity.
On the issue of safety, Spring Air’s president, Wang Zhenghua, focused on seat belts, apparently convinced that a thorough strapping in would be sufficient. “The safety belt is the most important thing,” he said. “It will still be fastened around the waist.”
Ryanair, which has been unabashedly interested in upright seating at least since 2012, has dismissed the focus on seat belts as delusional. The company’s ever-confrontational chief, Michael O’Leary, put it bluntly: “Seatbelts don’t matter. If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won’t save you.”
Air travelers may soon find themselves imploring a higher authority to save them from the dark dreams of airlines that would scrap all vestiges of passenger comfort and safety in pursuit of a few extra dollars per flight.
Reader Reality Check
Are you prepared for a future in which upright seating is the norm?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.