I thought it was a joke when I heard that an airplane seat manufacturer was trying to sell airlines seats that are more uncomfortable than the ones we’re used to. But it’s not a joke. Aviointeriors is the Italian manufacturer that has come up with seats that would put passengers in a half-sitting, half-standing posture. The seat would actually be a saddle, and the posture of the passenger would allow more of these seats to be squeezed onto a plane than the usual coach seats. There would be approximately 7 inches less legroom. That’s just the kind of thing that air travel needs now. When people get off a plane after a trip, don’t they all say, “The flight was OK, but I just wish there had been less room?”
Traveling by air is no longer a fun experience for most people. The airports are crowded, security lines are long and slow, and you’re not even allowed to take a container of yogurt on the plane with you. A nice recent feature is that you have to pay extra to take a second suitcase. And you must’ve noticed that many flight attendants act as if they would rather be someplace else today, and who could blame them? With pay and benefit cuts, flying’s no fun for them either. We don’t get meals served to us anymore. Flights are often late, and bags are lost sometimes — even that bag that cost you extra. With all of this going on, someone thinks people will want to have a less pleasant flying experience?
I couldn’t even imagine that anything could be done to cut back on more costs to the airline and add to more discomfort for the passengers. When they toss a bag of pretzels at you and call it a “snack,” how much lower can they go? The answer seems to be these new seats, and I guess our future complaint after flying will be saddle sores.
The idea is that airlines could jam more of these new seats onto a plane, and then charge people less for sitting/standing. A new class would be formed that would be cheaper than Economy. They haven’t come up with a name for this class, but “Inhumane” would be a good possibility. The seat manufacturer feels that there are people who would be willing to use these seats for a short flight if it cost them less than usual.
He may be right. The Irish bargain airline, Ryanair, is trying to get the OK on having “standing room” on flights. They conducted a poll last year, and almost half of its customers said they would be glad to stand for a one-hour flight if it meant they could fly for less.
But don’t expect these seats to be the last of cost-cutting measures by the airlines. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started charging us for going into that tiny room with a metal toilet that they have the nerve to call a “lavatory.”
There’s no reason why the overhead bin has to be free. Who wouldn’t pay a dollar or two to put their computer up there instead of having it on the floor where it gets stepped on every time the guy next to you gets up?
They could easily start renting those airline magazines to us. That way, we’d actually have to pay to look at ads for an automatic pasta maker or a canine genealogy kit.
Let’s say you’re not happy sitting next to that guy who snort-laughs at every stupid joke in the movie. For a few bucks more, they’ll move you next to someone who just reads quietly for the whole trip. Similarly, if you don’t want to sit next to someone who keeps talking about his fascinating hobby of making rubber band balls, you’ll have to pay to sit next to someone who can give you stock tips.
Some of these things might sound ridiculous, but whoever would have thought that airlines would be charging extra for a soggy sandwich or earphones for the movie? What’s next, are they going to start allowing you to use your bonus miles only at times that you’d never fly? Oh, that’s right. They’re already doing that.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from “Sesame Street” to “Family Ties” to “Home Improvement” to “Frasier.” He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his website at lloydgarver.com and his podcasts on iTunes.