We’ve all been there: Crammed into an economy class seat on a long flight while wondering, “Could I possibly be any more uncomfortable?”
Well, maybe you could.
At the Airliners Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, last week, an Italian company showed the Skyrider 2.0, a “saddle seat” designed for an ultra-high-density economy cabin. More like a perch than a full seat, it supports your back and your behind while directing part of your weight down to a foot panel.
Since you’re halfway standing up, the Skyrider gives you less legroom than you’d find anywhere in the sky today. The seat’s pitch (the distance between a point on a row of seats and the same point on the row before it) is just 23 inches. That’s 5 inches less than the seat pitch on Spirit Airlines, one of the most no-frills airlines there is.
Made by Avio interiors, the Skyrider 2.0 is the second generation of a product the company first showed in 2010 (and to much derision). This time, Avio added more padding and a refined arrangement for securing the seats in the cabin.
I wasn’t in Hamburg so I can’t tell you if the Skyrider is as terrifying as it looks. But JT Genter of The Points Guy says it wasn’t so bad after 10 minutes. Granted, that’s less time than it can take to push back from a gate.
Avio has no airline customers for the Skyrider, though the company told Genter it has received “strong interest.” Airline watchers may remember that Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, who has a reputation for pitching unusual ideas for air travel, floated the concept of standing-room airplanes in 2014.
Airline interest or not, it’s likely to be a long time before the Skyrider supports the backsides of flying passengers, if it ever does at all. Before it could fly, it would need to be certified by the FAA (and agencies in other countries) to support passengers in the event of a crash.
What’s more, since all modern aircraft can only carry up to a certain maximum number of people (so they can exit quickly in an emergency) airlines wouldn’t be able to add the seats at will without any regulatory oversight. Here’s one area where we can agree that government should not get out of the way.