Meet the World's Most-Cramped Airplane Seat

The proposed SkyRider seat reduces coach legroom even more.

ByABC News
September 14, 2010, 11:51 AM

Sept. 14, 2010— -- Just when you thought coach seats couldn't be more uncomfortable, an Italian company this week unveiled a new airplane seat that has about as much surface area as a bar stool.

The new SkyRider seat gives passengers a bit more comfort than standing up -- but not much more. The seat has been described by some observers as "akin to riding horseback."

So why would the airlines want to subject passengers to such an uncomfortable ride? Because the manufacturer, Aviointeriors, suggests that airlines could install these seats with just 23 inches of legroom space between rows. Those precious inches, known in the industry as "seat pitch," could potentially allow airlines to squeeze even more paying passengers on the same jet.

But there are questions about whether the new design would be able to meet FAA safety regulations, and whether passengers would even be willing to tolerate such a set-up.

"There's no such thing in the fleet today so it would probably be challenging to meet our requirements," FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette told ABC News.

The 23 inches of space would be the smallest amount of legroom of any airline. In the U.S., Spirit Airlines has some of the most cramped -- and arguably the cheapest -- seats.

When asked about the seats, Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said: "This is not something that Spirit is considering."

Spirit currently offers 28 inches between rows, though the airline's new seats don't even recline.

Most of the major carriers offer even more room. JetBlue, one of the most generous, offers 34 to 38 inches of legroom. That means three rows of the SkyRider seats, which are being unveiled this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, Calif., would fit in the space taken up by two rows of seats on JetBlue seats.

"Talk about taking the fun out of travel," said John DiScala, a blogger known as Johnny Jet. "I pray to god the airlines don't get suckered into buying these seats. I highly doubt they will because they have to be a health hazard. I would expect all kinds of lawsuits from passengers either dropping dead of Deep Vein Thrombosis or anxiety attacks."

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