Air travel: A new way to pack in 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.

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 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, says Airbus. 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. “The vast majority of items and processes patented never become fully realized technology or products.”