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Simple Geometry = More Seats In an Airline 394

New submitter innerpeace writes: New airline seat arrangement looks to increase passenger capacity. A patent application by Zodiac Seats France calls for a design that puts every other passenger in a row facing backward. That means that in a row of three fliers, the seat by the window and the seat by the aisle face toward the front of the plane while the middle seat faces toward the back. The design idea could fit up to 80 more passengers in a plane, depending on the current seat layout. Whatever downsides it has, if such a design is adopted, I hope it leads to a stronger adoption of a convention that those with window seats board first.
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Simple Geometry = More Seats In an Airline

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  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:37PM (#50089271) Homepage
    It isn't about getting more seats in a plane, it's about doing so without making people uncomfortable.

    This looks like it would work fine if everyone knew each other - but would suck if you had an annoying seat mate. Who wants to be forced to look at them - or have them look at you?

    This design violates current social norms for personal space. As such I dislike it.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:50PM (#50089349)
      But do you dislike it enough to pony up for business/first class tickets? No? Then suffer, cattle.
    • by BigSlowTarget ( 325940 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:00PM (#50089419) Journal

      It is about staying within safety guidelines mandating the speed of evacuation of aircraft. Beyond that it's about not violating social standards so much that too many fights break out (they're expensive). After that it's about stuffing the most people in with the final limit being not making too many of them so uncomfortable they are willing to pay more for a more expensive seat. There are finally concerns about the actual cost of manufacture of the seats. Southwest has had seats facing each other in exit rows for a long time.

    • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:01PM (#50089429)

      It isn't about getting more seats in a plane, it's about doing so without making people uncomfortable.

      This looks like it would work fine if everyone knew each other - but would suck if you had an annoying seat mate. Who wants to be forced to look at them - or have them look at you?

      This design violates current social norms for personal space. As such I dislike it.

      Seriously. I can fit hundreds more in a plane if I put everyone laying down grouped by height/weight. How do they expect people to get in and out? Worst of all, can you imagine the creepy guys staring at the women in front of them all flight long? I'm a man and it creeps me out.

      The one thing I don't get is that flights are constantly over weight, or at least that's their excuse for jacking up baggage fees, so how do they expect to handle the extra weight from 80 more people?

      • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:14PM (#50089503) Journal

        The one thing I don't get is that flights are constantly over weight, or at least that's their excuse for jacking up baggage fees, so how do they expect to handle the extra weight from 80 more people?

        Where did you get that idea from? They jack up baggage fes because they can, no other reason.

        Planes can also take more or less freight -- but freight doesn't pay a much as passengers, so they would prefer to make up the weight with passengers rather than freight.

        • The one thing I don't get is that flights are constantly over weight, or at least that's their excuse for jacking up baggage fees, so how do they expect to handle the extra weight from 80 more people?

          Where did you get that idea from? They jack up baggage fes because they can, no other reason.

          Oh it's one of the default lines that Canadian carriers trot out when they added fees to more than 1 checked bag, then baggage in general, and so on. They never seem to have the room/weight capacity for luggage but always for passengers and freight.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Actually this seating arrangement brings to mind the vomit comet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]. Quite amusing to think of the chain reaction of people facing each other as those taking off backward find the ride most interesting.

    • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:07PM (#50089463) Homepage Journal

      It isn't about getting more seats in a plane

      Yeah. Yeah it is. This is why you have seating arrangements designed for the average hypermetabolic midget ectomorph who can exhale, suck it in and hold it for the duration of the flight.

      And, if you happen to be a normal sized person or a non-ectomorph body type, or carrying any extra weight at all, said planes are sardine cans where you're expected to die of asphyxiation.

      And that's BEFORE the person in front of you reclines their seat and crushes you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A lot of trains and light rail transit have facing configurations. This is not a big deal.

      The concept design looks like it doesn't have recline, which would be problem if both adjoining seats recline and you are facing a stranger within inches of your face. Oddly enough, the distance wouldn't be any different from a side by side configuration, but facing adjacent would present difficulties. A fabric/leather modesty panel that stretches between adjoining seats would fix that (one that fans out if the seats a

      • British Air has been doing this for many years in some business class flights

        http://www.thewholeworldisapla... [thewholewo...ground.com]

        I once flew with them on one of these flights. The semi-transparent divider you see in the picture has to be lowered during take-off and landing and you face your fellow passenger. (Un)fortunately, the mechanism was broken and we were left to face each other from London to San Francisco the whole time. In the words of my fellow passenger, it is rather "intimate".

        Lucky for me, she was very a
    • The current seating arrangement is already inadequate. I'm not overly tall, but the seating outside of first class is already cramped, and realistically I'm just happy if I'm not next to someone who's spilling into my seat because they can't fit in their own.
    • by cahuenga ( 3493791 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:52PM (#50089709)
      Oh it's not so bad. Was once on a flight in Guatemala with one backward facing row.... staring at a mother breastfeeding her baby in turbulence all the way to Costa Rica. I'll never forget that flight.
    • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

      In trains and busses you look at other people.

      • Not in UK you don't. It's amusing to break protocol on a jam-packed Tube and look to see how people studiously try to avoid looking at anybody else even when there isn't a choice.

      • In trains and busses you look at other people.

        True... but... There is usually an aisle between you and the person that you are facing. You aren't literally 12" from their face. It would be more like standing face to face on a crowded subway train for 3 to 6 hours. For most people it's exhausting enough to be that close to someone you don't know for the 15 to 20 minutes to get to your stop, let alone hours....

        Plus, just imagine if your facing someone who is coughing and sneezing. Yes, you're close enough on a plane that it's still likely that you

    • by perotbot ( 632237 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @08:38PM (#50090817) Journal
      the cattling of economy class, the security theater, the inconvenience of the current airport experience has gotten me to the point that if a destination is less than 10 hrs by car, I'll drive rather than fly. Between the delays of getting to the airports 90 to 120 minutes prior to the flight, the inevitable delays, it just makes more sense to drive it rather than fly for me
  • prior art (Score:4, Funny)

    by snsh ( 968808 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:40PM (#50089279)

    Didn't slave ship makers have this all figured out two hundred years ago?

    • by pesho ( 843750 )
      Nah, the slave ship schematics here [pbs.org] and here [sfuhs.org] show all "passengers" facing the same direction. It seems the current state of the art in passenger comfort of the aviation industry is at the level of your average slave ship.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      slave ships at least treated slaves as valuable cargo.

  • by pesho ( 843750 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:44PM (#50089303)
    Alternating orientation of the passengers, with no space for movement. I guess somebody with engineering degree has been paying attention to the cartoons section of The New Yorker/a> [artprintimages.com]
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:44PM (#50089307)
    Do you really want to spend multiple hours staring into the face of one or more strangers? It's bad enough on a short trolley ride.
    • Do you really want to spend multiple hours staring into the face of one or more strangers? It's bad enough on a short trolley ride.

      That's how long distance train travel worked for a century or so.

      Of course the airlines will put the seats much closer. On the plus side we can get more legroom by interlacing our knees, on the downside we'll have to take turns holding each others meal trays.

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        What do you mean, "worked"? It's still how it works in the countries whose trains I'm familiar with.

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:46PM (#50089323)

    Ever see those double chairs designed for making out? That what this looks like.

  • I'm all for it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:48PM (#50089333)

    this means not sharing arm rests with people.

    What I'd like even more though would be if the entire passanger compartment were just removed and added to planes like modules.

    What kills the whole experience is the rush onto the plane and the rush off it.

    If people actually wait in the seat they're going to depart from rather than at the gate... it means you don't have that silly rush.

    They have to do that because whenever the plane isn't in the air it costs the airline money. They want it in the air immediately. Okay, so why not have the passengers board a compartment and then have that instantly swapped with the existing compartment. Thus the compartment and fill slowly as people arrive at the gate and debarking might be a less annoying experience because you could potentially just open all the exits on the plane to let everyone bypass the various people that block the aisle because they can't figure out how to get baggage out of an overhead.

    The idea isn't original. Other people have suggested it and of course the planes would have to be designed around the concept. But it would make loading and unloading the plane a matter of two minutes or something which is less time than it takes to refuel the plane.

    • Re:I'm all for it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ericloewe ( 2129490 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:30PM (#50089599)

      You clearly have no idea about airplane structural engineering, or you wouldn't even consider what you just suggested. The only realistic solution would require a massive weight increase and the added failure scenarios, which need to be carefully examined and worked around.
      Furthermore, refueling an airplane does not take less than two minutes. That's the time you need just to plug in the fuel line.

      Not to mention the absurd ground complexity. Airports would need several cabins per flight per aircraft model, plus room to store them, plus machinery to handle them...

      Never, ever going to work.

      • Not never, ever. Just not with kerosene fueled turbine engines - fuel is too costly to make it work.

        What he describes isn't too far off how train cars are handled, and that would be an interesting thing to extend to air-travel. Passenger pods that load up at local terminals, get transported by truck to a rail center, then by rail to an air (or sea) terminal if necessary/desired.

        All we need is cheaper energy and it would work fine.

        Yeah, today, not so much.

      • "Airports would need several cabins per flight per aircraft model, plus room to store them, plus machinery to handle them..."

        All of this this actually exists. Just pack all of the passengers into LD2s.

      • by glwtta ( 532858 )
        But, but... this absurdly impractical technical solution would save whole minutes of mild annoyance!
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Karmashock ( 2415832 )

        ... you missed the bit where I said this wasn't an original idea. Several aeronautical engineers have drawn up blue prints for just this sort of thing.

        So... you can take your presumptions and pretensions and shove them up your anus sideways.

    • Some of this is the "jetway" method of loading / unloading.

      When jumbos land in places like Tel-Aviv, they bring up ladders on ALL the exits and the people dump out onto the tarmac rather quickly, with minimal fuss.

      It's harder to accomplish this in a "air conditioned" air terminal where you bring multiple sizes of aircraft up to a single covered entrance gate.

      • You could do it though... You'd just have something between four and six ramps all leading to different portions of the plane.

        I personally don't mind anything on the planes at this point. Its a little tight but so what. You just calm down and try to be comfortable. Its not that hard.

        On long flights, I don't sleep the day before the flight. So I arrive at the terminal ready to pass out. I get on the plane... buckle up... and don't wake up until the plane touches down wherever.

        And I generally feel reasonable

      • 'It's harder to accomplish this in a "air conditioned" air terminal'

        Is actually not harder, it's just that no one can be bothered to do it if the terminal space offsets the airframe utilization. Also, while it does reduce complains of boarding/alighting time it increases complaints due to the walking and/or bussing.

        If you look at old photographs of LAX, from before the build the ground level connectors buildings, planes would pull up parallel to the sides of the rotundas and a jetway connects both in front

    • "this means not sharing arm rests with people."

      You have not looked closely enough at where each passenger's parts go:

      http://cdn.travalliancemedia.c... [travalliancemedia.com]

  • Seriously, squeezing past people on flights or at the cinema is bad enough already, the pictures of this design look like they've literally not considered people who actually have legs at all getting into the two rows of seats nearest the window.

  • by cfalcon ( 779563 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:50PM (#50089347)

    Zodiac has been attacked by seating patents by their competitors. This is probably a defensive patent, something vague enough to discourage future lawsuits. I doubt they are intending to go and hexagonify all the seating, but it is pretty lol.

  • Three thoughts... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pollux ( 102520 ) <speter.tedata@net@eg> on Saturday July 11, 2015 @02:50PM (#50089353) Journal

    #1) This will make it that much more inconvenient for passengers closest to the window to get out when they need to use the bathroom.

    #2) Forward-facing seats make more sense during takeoff, as the acceleration from the plane pushes passengers into their seats, but the seats keep them secure. Passengers facing the rear will find it a bit more uncomfortable holding themselves in the seat when basic physics is pushing them out of it. (Yes, I know airline attendants have rear-facing seats. A cousin of mine served as steward on an airline for some years and always complained about them.)

    #3) Are airplanes engineered to handle the additional weight of 80 more passengers and their luggage?

    • #1) This will make it that much more inconvenient for passengers closest to the window to get out when they need to use the bathroom.

      I don't see how. As things currently are you need the aisle/middle passengers to get up out of their seats to let a window passenger out, and that won't change.

    • by scsirob ( 246572 )

      80 more people also means 80 more carry-on items to stow. As the overhead bins are too small already, I'm sure carry-on will be considered a luxury that needs to be purchased from now on.

    • Re:Three thoughts... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @06:36PM (#50090389) Homepage

      Rear facing seats make more sense in a crash situation (most crashes that are survivable happen in a nose-is-forward configuration). The entire seat supports the body in the rapid deceleration of a crash instead of just the seat belt. IIRC, some military transports are rigged that way. So you trade off a bit more discomfort on the very common scenario of the plane taking off with the possibility of better surviving a very rare crash situation.

      Decisions, decisions.

  • You *obviously* don't have a family.

  • This is a wonderful idea, as long as: the people facing backward don't puke on takeoff; flight attendants don't mind breaking up the inevitable fistfights; and you remove the bathrooms so that there's no temptation for the 6'4" next to the window to want to pee mid-flight. Except for all the horrible downsides, I don't see any drawbacks.
  • Hey, if they really want to fit more people, why don't they...

    - Shrink the already narrow widths of the seats to fit four on each side of the aisle. (Anyone slightly larger than average has to buy two seats.)
    - Take out the seats and just make everyone stand.
    - Replace the seats with shelves only about 1 foot apart that everyone has to slide into.
    - Cram passengers into small boxes.

    There are lots of very uncomfortable ways we can cram people into, next to smelly other passengers on the plane.

    While I'm at it,

    • There's a whole lot of space under the floor where they currently carry cargo. We could go full Japanese cube hotel on the design and lay people in bunk-beds stacked 6 high in the middle and 4 high on the outside.

  • How are seat configurations patentable anymore? Why hasn't someone generated every single configuration possible on a given plane and published it?

  • Fuck all to me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:45PM (#50089665)
    I don't give a shit. I can only fly these days by ingesting 15 mg valium while boarding and 5 mg every two hours until the flight is over.

    The sad thing is that I used to like flying. They just kept squeezing us closer and closer until one day I had a panic attack at 30000 feet and that was the end of my ability to relax on a flight.
    • Ever try Business Class? It's a whole different experience. Too bad the corporate beaners won't spring for it at my pay grade, but if you really like to travel, just do it 1/3 as often, pay 3x as much, and be treated like a human being again.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      If airlines offered a chloroform soaked towel at the start of the flight I'd gladly take a nice big lung full of the stuff. I'd even sign a wavier absolving them of responsibility in the event of a crash and me not being able to get off the aircraft.

  • Basically, it sounds like you'll get to become a member of the Mile-High Club whether you want to or not.

  • It's supposed to be under my seat in the event of a water landing...

  • Trans have had this type of seating for years.

    Also, it's no good airplanes. Do you really want to be on the receiving end of an acute case of motion sickness?

    • by no-body ( 127863 )

      Trains have different safety requirements than planes - there are illuminated flow markers on the floor, artificial atmosphere pressure, emergency procedures - all in all a totally different environment. Good luck to the folks sorting this out this dehumanizing effort.

  • Fuel/Oil prices dropped, did the air fairs?

    I observe ticket prices on a particular route overseas and five years ago, it was in the area of $ 700 - $ 800, if one was lucky, even lower by $ 100.
    What I am seeing now is something like double of that, $ 1500 - $ 1800 and higher. All on Economy.
    On the way from there - 5 years ago to now, what have I seen...

    Food served to be disgusting, charges for luggage which was free before, Allowable luggage weight decreased and now the size of allowable cabin luggage is app

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @05:48PM (#50090199)
    "Oh hi, random person of the opposite sex. You don't mind if my hand rests against your hip and frequently gravitates to your crotch while I sleep here, do you?"

    I thought airline seats were already bad for violating personal space, but the way the picture shows it, this would expand new horizons of awkward.
  • Bring it on! (Score:4, Informative)

    by SpaghettiPattern ( 609814 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @07:37PM (#50090613)

    As a guy with very broad shoulders I say: Bring it on!

    On planes I prefer aisle seats because that way I don't have to constrict myself in order not to disturb fellow passengers. For me one shoulder in the aisle is the way to travel. Every now and a trolley bangs into me. But so what.

    Still I wonder how this is ever going to work gracefully.

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