Standing Seats on an Airplane?

A budget airline in Colombia is considering removing all the seats from their planes and making passengers stand. The hope is, of course, that they will be able to squeeze more passengers in, and as a result, lower their prices even further. Might we be getting closer to the reality of standing seats on an airplane?

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this idea. Back in 2010, the infamous Ryanair was also considering such steps. Considering creating what were in his words “bar stools with seatbelts.” He also expressed doubts about the seatbelts, calling planes buses with wings and saying; “If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won’t save you. You don’t need a seatbelt on the London Underground. You don’t need a seatbelt on trains which are traveling at 120mph.”

He does have a bit of a point there. However, what planes have that trains don’t is verticality. A train isn’t likely to suddenly drop a huge distance because of turbulence. I have been in a plane that dropped so suddenly if it weren’t for my seatbelt I would have gone flying from my seat. Because I had my trusty seat and seatbelt I was able to laugh and worry about not spilling the drink I had just been given. Some of the worst flights I’ve ever been on have been one of Ryanair’s most popular routes, Dublin-London. In some cases, it was nonstop shake the entire flight. While none of them resulted in the plane suddenly losing altitude it is something that COULD happen. And that is why I always wear my seatbelt.

But even before Ryanair, in 2003 Airbus actually came up with the idea of allowing passengers to be braced in a vertical seat, giving a standing section of the plane.

Back to the Colombian airline, the CEO recently told the Miami Herald, “There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up – we’re very interested in anything that makes travel less expensive.”


He also went on to say “Who cares if you don’t have an in-flight entertainment system for a one-hour flight? Who cares that there aren’t marble floors… or that you don’t get free peanuts?”

Sure, we don’t need in-flight entertainment or free peanuts, but marble floors? Come on man, a little bag of peanuts is not the same as marble floors. And I’m pretty sure that no plane has marble floors. Correction, I decided to look it up because I had to know. I did find a story about a member of the Saudi royal family who has marble floors on his plane. He’s also the 41st richest person in the world though. Not exactly your average traveler. The comparison is just ridiculous. Yes, all of them are luxuries, but one is far beyond the others.

There is another problem that hasn’t been factored in. What options do you have available for the disabled? Will wheelchair users be able to use these planes at all? If they went with a mixed option then yes, they could. They may not be able to be in the standing section, but in theory, at least, the price of all seats should be lowered. So there is still some benefit to everyone.

With all of that being said though…would I take advantage of it if I were able-bodied? For short flights, sure. From Dublin, Ireland where I’m based I’m only an hour and 40 minutes away from Amsterdam, 2 hours from Dusseldorf, and an hour and a half from Paris. In between there and here we also have the entirety of the UK. Flights to the UK are already incredibly low at €26-€50 round trip. Quick Christmas shopping trip in London? You wouldn’t even pause to consider it. It would cost you more to get to and from the airport than it would for your actual flight. Which is something I’ve also done before thanks to Ryanair. Though that was back in the days of “only pay the taxes” flights.

Traveling Western Europe would become my weekend pastime. Make a list of every airport less than 2 hours away and just start going to all of them. Especially if I can pair it up with the list of cheapest cities for travel.

Although, there is one thing that would immediately make it a no. The claustrophobic nightmare pictured below from Reuters.

Proposed standing seat on an airplane.
A man tries out Italian company Aviointeriors’ new aircraft ‘standing seat’ which has 23 inches of legroom, instead of the current economy class average of 30 inches, at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Long Beach, California, September 15, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES)

Yeah, I’m claustrophobic, I’m also a bigger lady. Those seats look like my worst nightmare. No thank you. Not even for a minute.

For now, thankfully it isn’t something we have to worry about. While airlines have considered it no country’ aviation authority has granted airlines permission to use standing seats or make planes standing room only. As you can see I’m quite torn on the idea myself. On the one hand, I love the idea of even cheaper flights and the opportunities it presents. On the other hand, these sound like a nightmare in the making and a real risk to safety.

I would love to know what you think of the idea! Would you buy a standing seat or simply stand on a flight?