Well, Airbus has submitted a new patent for a “re-configurable passenger bench seat,” just to make sure you don’t get too comfortable about the future of air travel—or too comfortable on any flight itself, either. The patent proposes a bench style of seating with collapsible arm rests and adjustable seat belts, so that each row can fit a different number of people depending on their size—kind of like a subway.
In the same space, for instance, there can be room for two:
Or even four:
Airbus notes in its patent filing that this ”flexible adaptation of the cabin layout” could fit the needs of many specific groups—like senior citizens, families with small children, and overweight people. (What it doesn’t address is the inherent discomfort of sitting on a bench for hours at a time, potentially squeezed in next to complete strangers, the number of which may depend on your collective body sizes.)
Don’t worry just yet. Air travel companies file tons of crazy patents, and hardly any of them end up making it off the page into the real world. But with obesity on the rise worldwide, airlines would certainly stand to profit from a seating arrangement that takes physical size into account—so maybe this particular design isn’t so far-fetched.