Aviation News

June 29, 2009

Chinese Airline Considers Installing Hannibal Lecter-Style “Standing Seats”

Spring Airlines A320 B-1951 takes off on its delivery flight from Tolouse. (Photograph by Christophe Ramos)
Spring Airlines A320 B-1951 takes off on its delivery flight from Tolouse. (Photograph by Christophe Ramos)
Spring Airlines A320 B-1951 takes off on its delivery flight from Tolouse. Photograph by Christophe Ramos

Spring Airlines A320 B-1951 takes off on its delivery flight from Tolouse. Photo by Christophe Ramos.

Over three years ago, the New York Times ran a cover story alleging that Airbus had been quietly pitching a seatless airliner concept to Asian carriers for some time. The article included an illustration of what the concept might look like. It wasn’t pretty: The “seat” resembled the offspring of a stretcher, standing upright, who had mated with a roller coaster. Airbus vehemently denied the claim, saying they had considered the idea in 2003 but had since scrapped it. Days later, the Times was forced to print a correction basically retracting the whole thing.

Maybe Airbus was upset because the Times illustration (above left) bore a striking resemblance to Hannibal Lecter's transport gurney?

Maybe Airbus was upset because the NY Times illustration (left) bore a striking resemblance to Hannibal Lecter's transport gurney?

Today comes news that Shanghai-based Spring Airlines wants to remove all the seats from its jets. The low-cost carrier has 13 Airbus A320s, but the lengthy wait for new aircraft is making it difficult to keep up with surging demand.

“The process of plane making is really long,” says Zhang Wuan, Spring’s executive director. “We already ordered 14 new jets. But some of them will only be delivered next year. And you have to wait for at least 5 years to lease a plane, and it is also very expensive.”

Rather than conventional chairs, passengers would lean against something resembling a bar stool with a waist belt, Wuan says. The airline also claims aircraft would be able to hold 40% more passengers while reducing costs 20%.

It is not clear if Chinese regulations even require anything beyond a seatbelt to secure passengers, but the scheme leaves many safety questions to be answered.

Would you fly a stand-up-only airline? If so, how long of a flight would you be willing to stand up on? How cheap would the ticket have to be? Sound off in the forums, or leave a comment below.


  • Laura

    Yes, I would. I question whether there are health benefits to this considering that people get deep-vein thrombosis from the lack of circulation when sitting. And it would totally remove the need to get everyone to stand up when you need the bathroom.

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  • Chris S.

    As an airline captain I am thinking only of safety. Imagine the panic that would ensue from an over-stuffed cabin if a fire were to break out or if an evacuation were necessary. There's no place for anyone to move safely. They would more than likely all die if something serious were to happen.

  • Chris S.

    As an airline captain I am thinking only of safety. Imagine the panic that would ensue from an over-stuffed cabin if a fire were to break out or if an evacuation were necessary. There's no place for anyone to move safely. They would more than likely all die if something serious were to happen.

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