Will You Have To Stand Up To Fly

Airlines once distinguished themselves on the basis of service and amenities. Now air travel is a commodity.

Have you heard about the new proposed airline seats–standup seats? The actual word came a few months ago, but today I finally heard about someone who sat stood in one. His opinion in a minute.

First an explanation of the seats in somewhat broken English from the Italian manufacturer.

The “SkyRider”, is an ultra-high density seat presently completely engineered and to be finally tested. The SkyRider has been designed and engineered to offer the possibility to even further reduce ticket prices while still maintaining sound profitability, which, even with a dual or three class seating arrangement, will allow maximum certified passenger capacity of the aircraft. With a much reduced seat pitch, the SkyRider preserves a comfortable position for the low fare passengers.

This is all about the money–obviously. That’s why airlines are in business: to make money. Passengers are nothing more than a necessary evil in achieving profit.

In today’s Times finally a first hand butt level assessment from Joe Sharkey their On The Road columnist. It’s the first I’ve read.

As television cameras poked around the display seats for angles, Mr. Menoud asked me, “It is very comfortable, no?”

“No,” I replied, though Mr. Menoud, beaming, seemed to take that as an assent.

I didn’t argue, but it was definitely not comfortable, although the seat, under the name SkyRider, is being promoted as resembling a horse saddle. I wasn’t buying that either. I have ridden many a horse, and the SkyRider seat is nothing like being in the saddle, whether Western or English. Sitting in one was more like being wedged, legs braced, on a stationary bicycle.

That’s what I was expecting. The seats look really cramped. They makes today’s coach seats seem positively spacious.

Some airlines will still buy them!

In spite of dimly remembering pleasant air travel in the era before stewardesses became flight attendants flying today is anything but! Airlines once distinguished themselves on the basis of service and amenities. Now air travel is a commodity. The only differences between flights are convenience and price…. and convenience is very far behind.

In a famously telling story the president of Spirit Airlines once sent an email to his staff in response to a complaining customer.

Let him tell the world how bad we are. He’s never flown us before anyway and will be back when we save him a penny.

Sharkey says Spirit is a likely candidate for these standing room seats. So is Europe’s uber discount carrier RyanAir.

Price rules! A future of seats like these is unavoidable.

6 thoughts on “Will You Have To Stand Up To Fly”

    1. Not to argue against myself, but dereg has democratized air travel. It’s much cheaper to fly today than it was 20 years ago in spite of fuel being so much more costly. But, yes, there should be a limit.

  1. If you look at air travel prices from 1970-1980 and compare them with today, I think you are right, Geoff. But why not just allow us, the consumers, to add on the features that we want? I don’t eat the meals on airplanes, so why should I subsidize the other guy’s? I don’t watch the clumsily-edited movie, why should I subsidize the other guy’s viewing of it? I don’t bring on 200 lbs of stuff, why should I subsidize the other guy’s payload? (Obviously, I am going to subsidize the bathrooms for everyone- that’s for the common good.) I like buying air travel in pieces, not a bundle. But the airlines make this affirmative choice feel like a penalty by the way they roll them out. I have stood on crowded Amtrak trains from Boston to NYC. I would be willing to buy a stand-up chair for a faster shuttle flight if I could save money. Would you?

  2. “Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has illuminated the seatbelt sign indicating our initial approach in the Hartford/Springfield area. At this time please return your uh, oh, never mind, just return your seat backs to the upright…….Click!”

  3. The airlines would like nothing better than to get rid of all those pesky passengers who expect them to, you know, actually fly them places and get them there safely. Never mind that that’s the sole reason the airlines exist in the first place.

  4. A brief pleasant air travel memory: on a Piedmont Airlines flight from Boston to Kinston, North Carolina in the early 1980’s, each passenger was handed a warm, moist face towel to freshen up. By a very pleasant flight attendant. Now that is customer service.

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