I'm working on an aircraft interiors feature for Flight that will look at whether standing-seat and stacked sleeper seat concepts have any hope of seeing the light of day. Spring Airlines recently made known its interest in the former, and Ryanair followed this announcement by saying it too was looking at such concepts (in an apparent publicity stunt).
Ryanair ran this graphic on its site; it appears to have originated in the 2006 New York Times piece about Airbus' interest in standing-seats for the Asian market - a piece that was later corrected and largely overhauled by the newspaper after Airbus cried foul.
But while this graphic might not provide the answer, Hans Weber, president and owner of Tecop International, says we shouldn't count out possible - and yes viable - standing-seat solutions making an entrance in the future. Indeed, he suggests the Asian market might get the ball rolling.
Key quote from Weber:
"If you look at the conditions that many people in Asia are used to when they travel by bus or train, they are certainly used to being squeezed into a standing up position. Look at the Toyko subway, for instance.
"Culturally, an idea like that [aircraft standing-seats] would seem less outlandish in Asia than it would seem here. Anybody who has ever travelled in Asia, including highly developed Japan, has personally experienced how much standing up you do and how squeezed in you are, and how must be prepared for that."
Weber's comment rang familiar to me. Noted interiors consultant Vern Alg said something similar during my interview with him over the weekend.
Key quote from Alg:
"You have customers who are not bothered being seated close to one another. People in the United States have a great deal of difficulty getting into a Tokyo subway but it's not a problem for the Japanese. The Asian people tend to be smaller in stature so you have opportunities to put more seats in there without compromising comfort. You're seeing some Asian carriers going 10-abreast on Boeing 777s, for instance."
This, of course, begs a demonstration of the Tokyo subway.
I'll take five Xanax for this ride please and thank you (although I've been informed that my head and shoulders would be floating above the majority of passengers due to what could, at least in this instance, be considered a little height advantage).
An aircraft stand-up seat would be seriously more comfortable than this, I'm sure. Important question - could I still use my iPhone while standing up and presumably harnessed in?