Standing-room flights could be the next frontier in budget travel

Click to play video: 'Colombian airline proposing standing room only spots' Colombian airline proposing standing room only spots
WATCH ABOVE: A low-cost Colombian airline is toying with the idea of standing seats to shave airline ticket prices. – Jul 5, 2017

In case you thought air travel couldn’t get any more uncomfortable (or uncivilized), budget airline VivaColombia has announced its desire to install standing seats in their aircrafts.

“There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up,” William Shaw, VivaColombia founder and CEO, said to the Miami Herald. “We’re very interested in anything that makes travel less expensive.”

The seats, which resemble bar stools, feature a saddle-like seat with a low back which passengers are meant to lean into (or perch on), versus actually sitting down. There is no tray table or in-flight entertainment; only slender arm rests between each passenger. At the moment, there doesn’t seem to be a seatbelt added to the design. By installing these types of seats, airlines could fit four passengers in a space normally reserved for three.

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VivaColombia isn’t the first airline to suggest this kind of seating arrangement. In 2010, budget carrier Ryanair proposed the idea of “vertical” seats, and preliminary images looked like the kind of contraption people are strapped into on a standing roller-coaster.

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At the time, company spokesperson Stephen McNamara said to the Daily Mail: “We are very confident that the seats can pass safety tests. Boeing can put a man on the moon so I am sure they are able to make these a success.”

He also said that of the 120,000 people polled, 80,000 said they would consider flying in the seats if their flight was free; 42 per cent said they’d consider it if the cost of the flight was half the price of a regular ticket. Ryanair was prepared to sell standing-room flights for 6 British pounds (C$10).

The concept of standing seats came up again in 2015 when Chinese budget carrier Spring Airlines floated the idea.

“For a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus — no luggage consignment, no food, no water,” Wang Zhenghua, the airline’s president, said to the Telegraph.

The SkyRider ‘saddle’ seat was the first standing seat design created by Italian firm Aviointeriors. MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

The first vertical seat, the SkyRider “saddle” seat, was unveiled by Italian design firm Aviointeriors in 2010. It was not approved. The most recent designs come courtesy of Airbus, which filed a patent in 2014 for the aforementioned bar stool-like design. These have not been approved either.

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An Airbus spokesperson told CNN that there was “no expectation” that the seats would become reality. To date, no regulators have approved these seats.

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Civil Aviation Director Alfredo Bocanegra told RCN radio in Colombia that he would not approve the standing flights, despite the fact that enterprising entrepreneurs consistently compare airline travel to riding the bus.

“People have to travel like human beings,” he said. “Anyone who has ridden on public mass transit knows that it’s not the best when you’re standing.”

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