Can you stand it? An in-flight bum shelf that is….

News that Chinese carrier Spring Airlines is considering a standing-room-only configuration for its on-order aircraft may give some folks in the interiors space a solid case of déjà vu (while giving Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary even more ideas).


It wasn’t so very long ago that the Wall Street Journal broke a story about a similar Airbus study. I’ve gone back to my notes and found a 2008 interview with Design Q co-founder Howard Guy, who addressed the standing-room-only concept.

First of all, let’s be clear. Standing-room-only does not mean you won’t have support.

“There still has to be some form of structure there to support somebody and you still have to strap people into some form of structure. Leaning against a little bench takes the weight off your feet,” says Guy, noting that you’d need “some form of harness”.

So essentially we’re talking about a semi-seat lean-back device? Or, as I’d like to put it – a bum shelf? Umm, yes!!

Guy says it would be “a little like sitting on a swing” and “at $20 a seat, maybe it becomes more appealing”.

But, he points out, this sort of seating would not be well-suited for flights longer than an hour.

And making the concept work isn’t as easy as you might think. “If you have twice as many people in the aircraft, standing rather than sitting, then you have to get those people out of the aircraft in a timeframe that is safe [in an emergency]. That is where it becomes more difficult,” says Guy.

There are also other obvious concerns, like what to do with mothers and babies or disabled people. No doubt you’d have to have at least some regular seating alongside the bum shelfs, no?   

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