Yes, it can get worse. Zodiac Aerospace, a French aerospace company, has designed and patented an “Economy Class Cabin Hexagon” that envisions passenger seats in a beehive arrangement, such that you are—from inches away—staring your neighbor in the face.
The goal, as in so many other abominable airplane seat designs of late, is to satisfy airlines’ seemingly insatiable desire to squeeze more passengers onto the aircraft. Although the exact dimensions of the redesigned seats are not specified, rest assured there would be less room. The patent states that, “by increasing the number of passenger seats in the space, the amount of space available for each passenger is diminished.”
The patent does tout that the seat would increase available space “at the shoulder and arm area.” But as we’ve noted before with other tinkers to seat dimension, that wiggle room (which tends on average to benefit men more than women) would likely come at the expense of slivers of an inch in other cherished areas, such as the cushion width and arm rest.
What’s worse, the design would further expose passengers seated next to children to hours of poking, chattering, and screaming directly in their face. Given the animosity of fliers without children towards those who do, this configuration would probably end in some very ugly scenes in the sky. Already, the growing ire about children on airplanes has led some airlines to designate sections of their aircrafts as child-free zones.
Thankfully, Zodiac Aerospace isn’t making any promises that these seats will come to fruition; for the moment the design is merely a prototype. If this thing ever did become a reality, honeymooners and extreme extroverts might be the only fliers to welcome the change—and even that’s a stretch.