Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Never Ending Struggle To Make Air Travel More Miserable

A recent US patent granted to the European giant Airbus makes enormous strides in the never ending struggle to make airline travel more miserable.  Stacked vertical seating. (Hat tip to a place called Quartz - sent to me in the home email today)

Seriously.  People sitting above something similar to the existing seats.  I am not making this up. 

I'm a kinda big guy.  Not NFL lineman big, but over average.  6' tall and on the plus side of 250.  Pretty much wear XXL in everything.  I find the current seats too small and too uncomfortable.  I especially find the distance between my knees and the seat in front of me too short, like about an inch closer than the length of my thighs.  The sample layouts in that patent will not work for me.  Take a look at this illustration from the patent:
Note there's three layers there.  Not just the main seats, with secondary seats over their heads, but literally a layer of people lying at floor level.  All of those people depicted don't show the full extent of the seats/beds, but the stated goal is to take better advantage of vertical space in the aircraft.  The smaller, single aisle aircraft like their A320 series sure doesn't have enough vertical space to accommodate this, unless the overhead compartments are taken out - and I'm not sure that would go over well.  People seem to put everything up there, stopping just short of full-sized furniture.  Usually.  Perhaps this will only be for larger aircraft. 
This artist's concept includes the upper level seats.  Seems kind of precarious for the upper seats in the event of turbulence.  Seems pretty precarious for the lower seats in the event the guys in upper seats suffer from flatulence.  Note that none of the seats have arm rests, none of them show upholstery, and none of them have a tray table.  Nice for an artist to do, but it screams entirely impractical to me.

Actually, I think even this misses the mark.  Think Japanese capsule hotels, those places where you rent a small tube to sleep in, and use communal bathrooms, and baths.  I think that would fit even more people onto the airplane.  I can envision an arrangement of tubes that would look like a battery pack, only instead of AA batteries, you'd slide in there.  Sort of like an array of MRI tubes ... only less friendly. 

I used to love flying around the country.  Getting onto a plane for a cross-country vacation was about as nice an experience as I had.  Relaxing, looking out the window at the passing beauty.  Then came more and more crowding, endless lines and the TSA grope-o-matic.  This is yet another reason to drive.  And adds more meaning to the phrase, "If it ain't Boeing, I ain't going".


  1. I hate to say it, but this comes to mind:

  2. There are only two levels of seats, but both levels can lay back completely for sleeping. That's why the prone travelers are in dashes.

    Mind you, that doesn't make this idea any better! :-)

  3. My wife convinced me recently to take a sleeper train while were traveling instead of a flight. It was actually quite comfortable. Even though the trip took longer, I was better able to rest and arrived at my destination in the morning ready to tour instead of ready to pass out. I predict that the airlines rising cost and general pain-in-the-assed'ness will help keep trains a viable option, at least in some locales. I know I for sure am looking at more train rides in the future, as long as they remains TSA-less at least!

  4. Google 'airliner standing seat"

  5. The industry trade name for passengers is "pax" for a reason.

  6. The airlines make a lot of money carrying mail and other unusual cargo. I'm not sure stuffing a few more passengers on the plane will really make much difference to their bottom line. I once flew from Alaska to Dallas on a 747 with a total of four passengers including me. I asked the stewardess how the airlines could possibly make any money? She said that they used to fly a smaller plane but the cargo ability was inadequate so they began flying a 747 for more cargo space. She said the hold was full of fresh seafood highly in demand in Dallas and the return flight would be full of beef and various other high demand goods in Alaska. The airlines simply loaded more cargo when the passenger load was light

  7. And Congress will see to it that more and more of the costs the airline incurs will be paid for with our tax money. Subsidies will increase until we are paying the b*stards profits directly out of tax money while never using the services ourselves. And don't the railroads get heavy subsidies from our taxes, too? I don't think either could keep running if this was free market instead of crony capitalism, but I could be wrong.