More people would fit on a plane if they would sit on hinged bike saddles.
In an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Airbus has sought a patent for an innovation in airplane seating—hinged bike saddles.
The European airplane maker filed the application–officially named “Seating device comprising a forward-foldable backrest”—with the USPTO on June 12, 2014. Among the application’s claims is the seat’s ability to “avoid providing an excessive necessary distance” between seats—AKA legroom. Among the application’s omissions is a tray table (or even a cup holder).
More seats on a plane can mean more revenue for an airline even after a ticket-price reductions to account for the less-desirable seating arrangement. (Current regulations in the US and European Union require certain numbers of cabin crew per passenger, so there would be higher labor costs for cramming in people this way.)
There is also no guarantee that such a configuration would pass muster with aviation safety authorities. European discount airline Ryanair in 2012 said a regulator thwarted its plan to sell standing-only airplane tickets and provide handrails and straps for passengers.