If a Colombian airline gets its way, you will soon realise that your suffocating rides in overcrowded public busses has actually been an experience in luxury travel. In an ambitious hope to bring travel by flight, and an opportunity to explore their country, to working-class Colombians, budget airline VivaColombia is considering plans to remove all seats from its planes and make passengers stand.
They believe implementing this absurd (and hazardous) idea will drive down fares by allowing them to squeeze more passengers into each flight, opening up air travel to lower-income groups and budget holidaymakers. VivaColombia has its eye on capitalising on the country’s growing tourist market, and its founder and CEO William Shaw has said the airline was looking into vertical travel options. “There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up – we’re very interested in anything that makes travel less expensive.”
(A man tries out Italian company Aviointeriors’ new aircraft ‘standing seat’)
He added: “Who cares if you don’t have an inflight entertainment system for a one-hour flight? Who cares that there aren’t marble floors… or that you don’t get free peanuts?”
As unbelievable as it may sound, this prospect has been contemplated by airlines before. In 2003 Airbus came up with an idea of allowing passengers to be braced in a vertical “seat”.
Ryanair also proposed standing areas on its fleet in 2010. At the time boss Michael O’Leary described the standing seats as “bar stools with seatbelts” and expressed doubts that seatbelts were even necessary. “If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seatbelt won’t save you. You don’t need a seatbelt on the London Underground. You don’t need a seatbelt on trains which are travelling at 120mph.”
Hmm, what are the chances of these owners/heads of airlines of ditching their private jets for a ride in one of their own inventions?
Thankfully, some minds do recognise the recklessness of this seatless-plane proposition.
Civil Aviation Authorities have disagreed with airlines on this before, and vertical seats have not been approved by regulators in any country so far. Civil Aviation Director Alfredo Bocanegra told RCN radio that he does not approve. “People have to travel like human beings,” he said. “Anyone who had ridden on public mass transport knows that it’s not the best when you’re standing.”