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'Standing Seats' Idea Still Hanging Around as New Study is Released

July 8, 2014 at 11:30 AM | by | ()

Remember when Ryanair announced a few years ago that it was going to experiment with "standing seats" on its flights? The airline said it would be able to offer tickets at extremely low prices, but ultimately the idea got shot down by a regulator, mostly due to concerns over seat belts and safety.

Despite those questions, we found the idea peculiar yet intriguing, especially for commuter flights of an hour or less, say, from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, Philadelphia to New York, New York to Boston, etc. Would it be so bad to stand for 45 minutes if the cost was significantly less? A new study released this week has once again brought up the concept, finding that airlines that remove seats in favor of a "standing section" could fit 20% more passengers and offer significant discounts on tickets - as much as 44%.

It's easy to romanticize the thought of a standing-room only plane and imagine people putting their hip up to a bar or high-top table, mingling with fellow passengers as if it was a happy hour. But what would a plane full of standing passengers really look like? Would it more closely resemble a crowded subway than a cocktail party? Probably. Practically speaking, standing shoulder to shoulder as a plane flies through turbulence could be trouble.

The 44% decrease in ticket prices sounds great, but a 20% increase in the number of passengers sounds like an absolute nightmare. And something tells us that some of the money saved on the airline ticket would be recollected as higher baggage and fuel service fees due to the increase in weight, but maybe we're just being paranoid.

If this idea ever gets off the ground, we'd definitely be willing to give it a shot. Perhaps the idea could fly for really short flights, like the hour from New York to Boston. But as for it being a long-term solution to increasing ticket prices worldwide, we're not so sure.

[Photo: LA Times]

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