One Airline Has Engineered the Worst Coach Seats Ever

The news: If you thought that standing-only flight sections were absurd, here's an even more bizarre airplane seating arrangement to consider: bicycle saddles.

That's the option French airplane manufacturer Airbus is exploring, after recently filing patents with both U.S. and European authorities. The preliminary design features a bicycle seat and a backrest, with no tray table, head rest or much legroom. Its main goal is to eliminate space and squeeze in as many as people as possible, and it seems to do just that:


Image Credit: Airbus

Why would anyone want this? As budget airlines such as Ryanair and Sprint have shown, people are willing to sacrifice a lot of comforts to save money. And though the design above may seem extreme, the main goal for airlines right now is to reduce space and fit in more people, which would reduce costs for both the airline and the passengers. Other ideas that have been thrown around include adjustable size seats and tiered rows.

Still, the comfort factor cannot be completely discounted. There's only so much that people can stand inside a confined space mid-air and bicycle saddles cannot be comfortable for extended amounts of time, especially during turbulence. And Airbus knows that: "Reduced comfort remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours," the airline told the Washington Post.


Image Credit: Airbus

There are other challenges too. In a rather hilarious acknowledgement of the obstacles in implementing this seating plan, Airbus' patent application adds that "it is difficult to continue to further reduce this distance between the seats because of the increase in the average size of the passengers." Translation: Americans are getting too fat to squeeze in.

Still, many patents never make it out of the development stage; while Airbus may have ownership of this idea, there's no guarantee that it will actually become a reality.

"Many, if not most, of these concepts will never be developed, but in case the future of commercial aviation makes one of our patents relevant, our work is protected," Airbus spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn told the Los Angeles Times. "Right now these patent filings are simply conceptual."

If the United States gets thinner as a nation, perhaps Airbus might run with this idea after all — for better or for worse. Go American obesity?!

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Eileen Shim

Eileen is a writer living in New York. She studied comparative literature and international studies at Yale University, and enjoys writing about the intersection of culture and politics.

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