John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Airbus looks into stacking passengers on each other like cargo.
When you’re flying and pretzels are raining down on you, and shoes are drubbing your head like metronomes, blame Stephan Sontag, Paul Edwards, and Benedikt Kircher. They’re listed as inventors on an Airbus patent application for seating arrangements with passengers riding atop each other like got-dang Master Blaster.
The system would have one seat “arranged at a first lower level,” and “at least” one other seat above on an “elevated level.” (The “at least” is ominous.) Both seats would be able to recline into bed positions, enhancing the feeling of being on a packed interstellar transport ship headed to colonize Hoag's Object. If your upstairs neighbor is being noisy, though, this position affords you the advantage of pounding on their seat and yelling, “Keep it down up there!”
The application lays out the rationale for the seating:
In modern means of transport, in particular in aircraft, it is very important from an economic point of view to make optimum use of the available space in a passenger cabin. Passenger cabins are therefore fitted with as many rows of passenger seats as possible, which are positioned with as little space between them as possible. In order to still more efficiently use the space in a passenger cabin of an aircraft, US 4,066,227 proposes an elevated deck structure on a main deck floor in the passenger cabin of a wide-body aircraft for providing a mezzanine seating area in a substantially unused upper lobe of the aircraft fuselage.
Because they’re evidently sadists, the inventors indicate this system might also be implemented in buses and trains (although India is way ahead of them there).
According to The Telegraph, Airbus has no immediate plans to put the double-decker seats into operation. So file this scheme under yet another way airline companies can make life uncomfortable if we complain too much, next to Airbus’s proposal to turn seats into bicycle saddles and Boeing’s "upright sleep support system” that mashes a pillow into your face.