When I was a lot younger I used to enjoy long flights. Back in the olden days of my youth, airlines had a reasonable amount of space between coach seats, they actually served you a meal (and if the flight was six hours long, two meals and a snack), and if you went on Lufthansa, they even brought you a hot washcloth to freshen up.
Nowadays airlines feel they’ve done their job by letting you sit in a cramped space (trust me, my legs are too long and my joints are achier than they were thirty years ago) and getting you to your destination in one piece. You and your luggage, however, may or may not be permanently separated.
So imagine my dismay when I watched last evening’s France2 newscast (available until 2PM EST, click on Avions: la piste des économies). The report starts innocously enough with an engineer explaining how to make airline seats
more like an instrument of torture than they already are lighter, in order to save fuel. Then they get down to the punch: flying in standing room only, with twenty-five inches of space between seats.
I thought I was having hallucinations from watching years’ worth of France2 newscasts.
Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet.
Of course, France2 only shows clips of Airbus’s super-deluxe spacious lounge bar with grand piano, complete with waterfall. And who came up with the idea? Airbus. What I would like to see is Airbus come up with a Mythbusters-like crash test to find out just how many fractures Buster the crash-test dummy can get when his limbs fly through the 25″ space you’d be standing on. If you go by the above picture, your collarbone, sternum, and ribs will be crushed by that piece of pipe holding you in place.
I also want to know who’s going to make airplane cabins taller. If you’re 5’9″ or taller, you know what I mean.
“It would be something like a bus shelter seat that you rest on for a while. You would have to make the cabin taller, and the backsides of people are in different places, so they would have to be adjustable. There is the question of how long can you stand . . . and what happens when you hit turbulence.”
Excuse me!? “Bus shelter seat”? Here in America you can actually sit on “bus shelter seats”.
I politely suggest the Airbus geniuses that came up with this idea be forced to fly standing up every time they travel.
Otherwise, their next thing will be that they’ll hand you a parachute so you can sky-dive to your destination.
(my apologies to long-term readers of this blog, who have grown accustomed to a more genteel tone. I hope you understand why I resorted to this post’s title)
UPDATE Barcepundit says that Airbus disputes report it is in discussion with Asian airlines.
Based on the France2 televised report, and the London times story (which includes Airbus’s denial) and graphic, I stand by my words. You decide if Airbus is denying the story due to the outrage it’s caused (for instance, in my post) or whether the NYT was the one coming up with the story, as Airbus is now claiming.
The last thing Airbus needs right now is a public relations disaster.
Update 2: The visuals say Welcome to the future of air travel!
Update 3 Is this what inspired them?
The misericord or “mercy” is a ledge and bracket affixed to the underside of a choir seat. It comes into position to form a secondary high-level support when the choir seat is tilted up. Whereas ritual required choir members to stand during the mass, indulgence allowed them to rest their corporeality on the misericord without offending church decorum.
Compared to the London Times diagram, the design from Middle Ages looks ergonomic.
Update, Friday April 28 Hesperus for the Rest of Us