High-density Seats Squish Penurious Passengers

 - September 15, 2010, 5:27 AM

Aviointeriors of Litina, Italy, garnered scads of attention and incredulous crowds at this week’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Long Beach, Calif. Few attendees could walk by the company’s booth without doing a double take, then gingerly planting his or her posterior on the SkyRider ultra-high-density seat. See the Skyrider seat on YouTube.

The 23-inch-pitch seat looks like a cross between a miniature horse saddle and a thinly sliced seat back. The seat does not recline and the pitch so small that one’s knees are forced in constant contact with the seat in front. Elbow room is non-existent. The arms of passengers sitting in adjacent seats intrude into each person’s personal space.

The SkyRider saddle seat is not entirely uncomfortable, but it does feel strange to be sitting more or less upright, without being able to lean back, and having all of one’s weight on one’s posterior, instead of also distributed on the back and the thighs. While there is no room to crack open a laptop or unwrap a newspaper–indeed a big-bellied person would not even be able to lower the seat-tray–the seat backs do have space for an entertainment system display. An Apple iPad would come in handy between these seats, too.

Aviointeriors has been manufacturing airliner seats for 40 years and spent three years designing the SkyRider seats. Weighing less than half as much as normal economy class seats, the SkyRiders would allow an airline to fit in 14 percent more passengers, according to Fredrik Meloni, Aviointeriors regional manager, Asia. “Airlines are searching for solutions,” he said. “This could make a huge impact on revenue.”

However, although the company is in discussions with more than one airline about SkyRider, Maloni said the design is not necessarily a serious proposal as much as it is intended to provoke discussion and feedback.