The New York Times reported yesterday that Airbus has been very discretely trying to drum up interest in a standing-room-only option to Asian airlines.
Passengers would stand against a padded backboard, held in place by a harness. In short, we'd have a plane full of papooses!
The airlines have already been squeezing passengers further (is that even possible?) by ordering new seats, with far thinner backs. Instead of adding an inch or two of legroom, they are, of course, adding additional rows of seats.
One airline was even considering a proposal by Boeing to essentially forgo seats and seatbealts in favor of a system where passengers stand so snugly together that they insulate each other from any turbulence or jostling. One proposal included the option of having passengers travel nude, using Crisco or another emollient to reduce friction and chafing. "Essentially, we would be taking a leaf from the penguin's book," explained Sheila Houlihan, a vice-president with Boeing's Public Relations group, "I mean, you saw March Of The Penguins, didn't you? These guys know how to huddle!"