Just when you thought budget airlines couldn’t get any more uncomfortable, VivaColombia is considering plans to remove all seats from its planes and make passengers stand. Removing the seats will give the airline more room to squeeze in passengers, which in turn should reduce flight costs.
The airline wants to open up air travel to a broader Colombian market. In a recent interview with the Miami Herald, William Shaw, the truly-no-frills airline’s founder, and CEO, confirmed that, “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.”
The budget airline is adding fifty new Airbus 320’s to its fleet. A move that will put it at the front of the country’s growing tourism market. The soon to be added planes will have lower running costs and more seats than the previous aircraft. The first of the new planes will start flying in 2018. While there are no serious plans to start ripping the seats out of planes, it isn’t the first time the idea has been floated around.
Vertical seats on flights
More than a decade ago, Airbus worked on a concept that would allow passengers to be strapped to a vertical seat. And in 2010, Ryanair toyed with the idea. At the time, Ryanair CEO, Michael O’Leary was quoted as saying, a plane is "just a b----- bus with wings", he said, “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 likened standing plane ‘seats’ to barstool with seat belts.
No aviation authorities, in any country have approved any designs for vertical seats. Colombian Civil Aviation Director Alfredo Bocanegra told RCN radio that he does not approve of the idea, saying. “People have to travel like human beings,” he said. “Anyone who had ridden on public mass transport knows that it’s not the best when you’re standing.” It is difficult to imagine the concept would be popular with consumers except the shortest of flights.
Unless the design of the ‘standing seat’ really strapped you to a pole, standing during a flight just seems really dangerous and tiring. Some degree of turbulence is experienced on almost all flights. Even the slightest mid-air movement could cause chaos on a standing flight.
Budget airlines have done all they can in recent years to drop ticket prices. Most now only offer the seat as part of your purchase, bags, food and entertainment all come with an additional cost. But despite this, low-cost airlines do outsell regular airline companies. Companies like VivaColombia and Ryanair haven't opened the doors of travel opportunity to new markets via its cheap flights. So if you can get a cheap holiday we feel the same way as Shaw who says “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?”