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Are stacked seats the new plan to pack in airline passengers?

The airline trend of packing as many passengers per plane as possible may reach a new height.

The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus Group has applied for a patent on a seat configuration that adds a row of passengers on top of passengers in seats on the floor of the cabin, similar to bunk beds.

The patent 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 under-used upper lobe of the aircraft fuselage,” according to a filing with the European Patent Office late last month.

The “under-used upper lobe” area is also known as the space above your head in an airplane cabin. Passengers would climb to the upper seats with steps installed between the ground-floor seats.

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The seating arrangement would allow both levels of seats to recline. But the patent application does not discuss where to cram all of the carry-on luggage or whether passengers on the top level will still get served boiling hot drinks, especially when turbulence hits. The patent specifies that the design is for larger, wide-body jets.

It’s not the first time that Airbus has looked at ways to pack in more passengers. The company submitted a patent last year for a new passenger seat that resembles a bicycle seat with a small backrest but no tray table, no headrest and very little legroom.

Don’t panic, Airbus says. Just because the company applied for a patent does mean it will build the idea.

“Airbus Group and its divisions apply for hundreds of patents every year in order to protect intellectual property,” the company said in a statement. “The vast majority of items and processes patented never become fully realized technology or products.”

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.


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