Economy class could get a lot worse if manufacturers make use of a new seating design.
Airbus, the plane manufacturer, has patented a mezzanine seating design that piles passengers on top of one another. In this design, passengers are able to recline into a lying position, but the seats are also stacked on top of one another, so that another set of passengers can fit just a few feet above the first.
Stairs are fixed to an ottoman at the feet of the lower passenger, allowing those in the upper tier to reach their seat.
In the patent filing, Airbus stressed the importance of making optimum use of the available space in a passenger cabin. “Passenger cabins are therefore fitted with as many rows of passenger seats as possible, which are positioned with as little space between them as possible,” the document said.
The patent was filed by a team of Airbus employees in Hamburg, Germany, to the US Patent and Trademark Office in October. A spokesperson told the Daily Mail that Airbus files 600 patents a year and that this one may never see the light of day.
Airbus is one of several companies filing for patents for plane seating designs as plane manufacturers seek new ways to cram more passengers onto planes. The success of budget airlines such as Ryanair signals that passengers are willing to give up comforts for a cheap ticket.
In July, Zodiac Seats France patented a hexagonal seating arrangement that seated passengers both forwards and backwards to save space – so that the middle passenger faced those either side.