Not only is 29-inch pitch becoming the new normal in economy cabins, seat makers are now claiming they can make a 27-inch pitch feel as “comfortable” as a 29-inch one.

See where this is going?
This week, seat manufacturers showboated their latest in sardine accommodations at the Aircraft Interiors Expo.

And, running circles around the rest was a “standing” saddle-like seat called SkyRider at a cozy 23-inch pitch, the distance from the back of one seat to the back of the one in front of it.


This marks the second time we’ve seen this seat. Our first peek was eight years ago. Many media outlets took notice of the new invention by Aviointeriors.

Credit: StackExchange

Like Riding A Horse

Dominique Menoud, the spokesperson for Aviointeriors said, “Cowboys ride eight hours a day on their horses and still feel comfortable in the saddle.”

So, SkyRider is being promoted as resembling a horse saddle. But according to aviation insiders it’s more like leaning on a shelf or riding a stationary bike.

No airlines have signed up as of yet. But the company has said there is interest from carriers in the U.S. and around the world.

Sampling an early prototype of the Skyrider seat at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, 2010 (pic: Alamy)

Years ago, Ryanair has said it hoped to win regulatory approval to put rows of stand-up seats, with the cheapest fares, in the rear of its planes. Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said on British television the airline was thinking of taking out some existing seats to install “the equivalent of 10 rows of standing area.”

Aviointeriors says the SkyRider has undergone extensive testing and will be able to meet all regulatory safety standards. The seat is being promoted as an option for airlines that might want to more profitably use space in any given airplane while opening up room in front for more lucrative premium-class seats.

A Boeing 737, for example, could be configured with 16 business-class seats, 66 standard coach seats and 98 SkyRiders, Aviointeriors says.
While Aviointeriors has told the media shorter flights are the main market, the company thinks  the stand-up seats can find passenger acceptance even on flights as long as four hours if the fare is low enough.

It’s hard to believe no one at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) or European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is willing to “stand up” and say stop to these seat vendors and airlines.

What would happen in an emergency evacuation from these “seats”? With tighter seat pitches, more passengers, and a real-world passenger mix of the young, the old, the tall, the plus-sized, the muscle-bound and the disabled, along with emotional support animals, it’s not a good picture.

This is why airlines run emergency tests with computer simulations instead of real people. They know they cannot meet the 90-second evacuation rules with these tight seat pitches.

Every day there is a game of cat and mouse being played out by airlines and their passengers. But it’s time to stop blaming passengers for seeking out the lowest prices, while making excuses for inhumane airline management.