I wish this were surprising:
The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How many passengers can be squeezed into economy class?
A lot more, it turns out, especially if an idea still in the early stage should catch on: standing-room-only “seats.”
Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.
I imagine that this will probably come to pass. And, as much as I personally find the idea horrifying, I can imagine high traffic short hop flights where there might be a decent sized part of the market who finds this (presumably lower priced) option a good deal. My fear, though, is that the choice will end up being between this barely acceptable service and the obscenely priced top end service. Airlines – like so many other industries – seem to be unable to find a way to serve a middle market – those who *are* willing to pay more for a quality product, but don’t particularly need a five course meal, ongoing drink service, or amenity kits. Every time I fold myself into a coach seat, I find myself willing to pay a substantial bit more for a simple extra six inches of seat space. Again, all I need is space, and I’d be willing to add anywhere from $30 to a couple hundred dollars to get it, depending on the length of the flight. I know there are always business class tickets, but the gap between them and coach is a lot more than a couple/few hundred dollars, and usually more than I can justify for personal travel. I can’t imagine that I’m alone in wanting a reasonable middle market for air travel. Until that emerges, I’m left spending either far more than I want, or a good bit less than I’d be willing to, to simply get from A to B in a reasonable manner.