Passengers Forced to Stand for Five-Hour Flight

Russian airline ran out of seats and told passengers to stand on trip.

ByABC News
September 30, 2010, 1:04 PM

Sept. 30, 2010— -- Airlines aren't known for treating their coach customers luxuriously. But a Russian airline has apparently taken Spartan transportation to new heights, forcing six passengers to stand during a recent flight.

It appears to be a violation of European aviation standards and poses several questions, not just about comfort but safety. The six passengers were apparently without their own life vests or oxygen masks, let alone seatbelts in case of a rough landing, turbulence or a crash.

The Tatarstan Airlines flight last week from Antalya, Turkey to Ekaterinburg, Russia was fully booked with a tour group. At the last second, a Boeing 737 with 148 seats was replaced with another one that only had room for 142 passengers.

The tour company, according to local media reports, offered the passengers a choice: wait seven hours for another flight or stand for the five–hour flight back to Russia. All chose to stand, although they are now seeking $4,700 in compensation. The tour company offered about $200.

Irish carrier Ryanair -- the worldwide leader in outlandish ideas -- has floated the concept of standing-room-only seating. But European regulators quickly dismissed the idea. Last year, Spring Airlines, a low-cost carrier in China, tried to get regulators there to approve a plane redesign to allow some standing passengers.

So far, no government has been willing to back such a plan.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration requires all passengers to be buckled into their seats from the moment a plane leaves the gate until it reaches calm air at cruising altitude. The FAA also requires any seat to be able to help passengers withstand forces 16 times that of gravity.

Stay Up to Date on the Latest Travel Trends from ABC News on Twitter

Apparently the Russian airline wasn't following such stringent safety rules.