Vertical Airline Seating - April Fools or Future Reality?

Air New Zealand jumped on the April Fools' Day bandwagon yesterday and announced a new "StraightUp" airfare deal that promised "affordable domestic air travel on sale to anyone who can 'stand it'."

Sky Rider
Courtesy of Aviointeriors
Sky Rider

According to the airline's Grabaseat website, "We've installed hand holds on the cabin ceilings of selected aircraft to allow even more passengers onto our planes. We can now house up to 69 extra people standing in the aisle for the duration of the flight, massively increasing our capacity and drastically lowering ticket prices."

It was an April Fools joke, of course, but it isn't the first time such a concept has been pitched.

European low-cost carrier Ryanair in 2010 proposed installing a few rows of vertical seats on its aircraft and selling them at rock-bottom fares. But the concept was quickly squashed by European safety regulators. Many thought it was another publicity stunt by the carrier, which had considered charging for the use of onboard lavatories.

But later in 2010, Italian aircraft seat manufacturer Aviointeriors introduced the SkyRider (see photo above) at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, Calif. Passengers sitting in the SkyRider would be nearly vertical, straddling the seat bottom and be a mere 23 inches away from the seat ahead of them.

Designed for short flights, the manufacturer claimed several airlines, including a few in the U.S., expressed interest. But I wouldn't worry about these seats coming to an airline anytime soon. The safety test hurdles and certification by the Federal Aviation Administration and other entities would likely take years.