Airline Floats Plans for Standing-Room Fares

Ryanair has taken the challenge of offering low-priced seats to the next level. With its newest plan, the lowest fares will not have seats at all.

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary announced the budget airline's plans to renovate its 250 aircraft to feature a "standing room only" section, in an attempt to boost the number of passengers and reduce fares.

"We continue to look at historic forms of travel and see how they can be made better," Stephen McNamara, the head of communications for Ryanair, told ABC News. "We need to make sure our efficiencies are high, so we can offer the lowest prices."

The "vertical seats" will take the place of 10 rows of traditional seating and, potentially, two bathrooms. If approved, flights could hold an additional 40 to 50 passengers.

Vertical seat fares will range from free to 10 euros ($11.24). The average Ryanair fare is 35 euros.

McNamara said the plan attempts to stabilize fares in the face of changing fuel prices. In a poll conducted by Ryanair, two-thirds of respondents said they would purchase vertical seats. Eighty percent said they believed passengers should have the vertical seat option.

This revolutionary non-seating plan is still in the design stages. McNamara said that, if approved, the vertical seats would not be offered for 18 months to two years. Ryanair is currently working with Boeing to align the concept with the industry's strict seatbelt regulations.

Currently, the proposed seatbelt for the vertical seats resembles that of the cabin crew, as it goes over the shoulder. But according to European Aviation Safety Agency regulations, each passenger on an aircraft must have a seat. The only exception is that if the person is immobile, a berth will suffice.

Richard Taylor, the spokesperson for the U.K.'s Civil Aviation Authority, said "vertical seats" have never been proposed in civilian planes.

"The concept isn't impossible," Taylor told ABC News. "But it's up to Ryanair to put forward a case that convinces the European Aviation Safety Agency."

And that is a feat that may be easier said than done.

Daniel Holtgen, the spokesperson for the European Aviation Safety Agency, said Ryanair's proposal would require a change in the safety regulations. "It is unprecedented and highly unlikely in near future," Holtgen told ABC News.

But Ryanair asserted that it will not propose the vertical seats to the European Aviation Safety Agency unless it is assured of their safety.

"This is not about minimizing on safety; it's about maximizing on efficiencies," McNamara told ABC News.

The airline would introduce the standing-room sections on short-haul flights of less than an hour. Ryanair also plans to begin charging fliers to use the restroom, allowing them to cut the number of toilets on its planes.

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