Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Airline Coach Seating Plan Will Generate Even More Miserable Fliers

I am beginning to think that the designers of several new airline coach seating configurations are actually the reincarnations of former Inquisitors. You know - the lot that got jollies out of hanging people upside down while they thrust assorted implements into the hapless "heretics". But in terms of torture seating they  devised other devices such as the Judas Cradle, also known as the Judas chair, upon which unbelievers were forced to sit upon with predictably horrific results.

Apart from the prominent sharp, spiky seat how is this thing that different from these god-awful "bicycle" seats - proposed in a patent for coach for the Airbus, e.g.

The approval of such torture chairs would enable the grubby-greedaholic airlines to pack even more hapless souls into a confined space than the "Skyrider" seats (left) which themselves packed fifty more people per flight (going up to 220) into their 737’s -  by reducing the spacing between front and back row seats by nearly 30% from 32” to 23”.

Now enter new (more psychological if not more physical)  tortures of the damned (or at least those having to fly coach). As we know  airlines and aircraft manufactures are continuously looking for new ways to pack passengers into planes like sardines. From installing narrower seats to  the idea of bicycle-like perches , there appears to be no end to what might be considered to maximize capacity on flights. The latest concept: a seating design that takes the already awful experience of being stuck in the middle seat and makes it worse… so much worse.

Wired reports that a recently approved patent [PDF] by seat supplier Zodiac Seats France takes the middle chair and turns it around, creating an alternating seating pattern. They have labeled this bullshit the “Economy Class Cabin Hexagon” which essentially increases one seat mates from two to  four.  Worse, two of these "seat mates" now are forced to look at your mug while you have to see theirs. Unlike the good old days when we had the protection of seat backs and didn't have to worry about whether a piece of snot was dripping down or not.

The seating arrangement is described as a configuration “with at least one row having at least one forward-facing seat and at least one aft-facing seat.”

A patent for new airplane seats shows the middle seat turned around in an attempt to increase arm and shoulder space.

That means if you’re lucky enough to be sitting between two people, you’ll now be forced to to look two others in the eyes for an entire flight. (Obviously for families or friends traveling together this works out just fine - but not so for most singletons who prefer to read and not invite pests to have spontaneous gabfests!)

Zodiac claims in the patent that the new seating design is meant “to increase cabin density while also creating seat units that increase the space available at the shoulder and arm area.” Sorry, but all I see is an infernal arrangement that is sure to drive even more innocent coach fliers nuts - given it's bad enough to be hurled together with strangers - and now to have to look at 'em!

You can also see that while facing the opposite direction, i.e. of two seats, you’re basically smashed between two strangers. Sure, it might give you a little more freedom to move your upper body, BUT it doesn’t help the fact you likely won’t be able to completely ignore the two other seat "mates" with little else to look at than your face.  (All schzoid personality people be forewarned!)

Mercifully,  for the Hexagon design to make it to the downtrodden masses, it would first have to undergo an array of safety and compliance tests, not to mention the extremely dirty looks many travelers would surely throw such a design as well as rabid (we hope) social media takes and tweets.

But still, the airlines, always looking for bottom line benefits, could still approve it. And don't think that things couldn't get worse! A new Chinese design - yes, to save more room - has seats done away with completely and replaced with back rests and straps. Yep, you heard it here first! They would be able to pack twice as many into a plane with this 'sardine' style "configuration".

After a number of passenger meltdowns on recent flights, the airlines and feds have puzzled over what’s with the bad behavior. But this isn’t genius territory! Put any human in such cramped, undesirable conditions – with no food, minimal perks, and often screaming infants in the vicinity, and they’ll tell you things get twitchy in no time. It doesn’t take all that much to set off a frightened, irritated and ornery passenger who may have gone with little sleep the night before and whose nerves are rattled long before takeoff. Now, imagine what it'll be like if this ‘hexagon configuration’ is approved and the poor shmuck is tortured even as his mind melts down with simultaneous infants screaming and major air turbulence pounding him in his seat to boot.

Meanwhile, on one website called Flyertalk, we learned last year-  from another blogger -  just how close we are to class warfare in the sky. Evidently disgusted by the grubby conditions on his flight, this Robespierre of the unfriendly skies invoked the French Revolution and warned: "If you annoy the salt of the earth enough, the rank and file and what have you, sometimes you wind up beheaded.”

Careful there, Bud. You don't want to be classified as a terrorist under the Patriot Act. But seriously, it's actually a wonder there aren't more incidents given how the traveling public's comfort and even basic humanity is being gutted by the yen for airline profits. But maybe people are no longer surprised given how this model is ubiquitous in our society.

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