Discount airliners Southwest, AirTran, and Frontier all announced fare sales yesterday. Many other carriers quickly followed. After reporting a traffic decline in June, the airlines are doing what they can to get more people on planes. A couple of discount airlines overseas have a different approach to get more people on planes. Spring Airlines of China and Ireland's Ryanair said they want to eliminate some seats altogether. Seats take up room and these discounters believe they can get up to 40% more passengers aboard if they have them stand. It works on subways and buses. Why not planes?
Spring Airlines currently has only 13 planes, but its passenger numbers are on the rise and it added new routes. The airline will only take a partial delivery next year of the 14 extra planes it ordered because of plane production lag time. It estimates adding standees could lower the carrier's cost by an estimated 20%, add 40% more capacity, and lead to lower airfares. Spring Airlines is confident the proposal will pass because it was suggested by China's vice premier Zhang Dejiang. As told by Spring's president, "He suggested that, for a lower price, passengers should be able to get on a plane like catching a bus, with no seat, no luggage consignment, no food, no water, but very convenient." Spring's president contends the safety belt is the most important feature and will still be required around the waist. He says Airbus has been consulted and the proposals were deemed safe.
Ryanair was inspired by the Spring Airlines idea. It estimates it can carry 30% more passengers on its shorter routes while trimming costs 20% as well. The CEO says talks were held with Boeing about standing room designs. Fliers could be perched on stools and strapped in. Ryanair has a history of cost cuts. After October it will no longer have conventional check-in. It will have online check-in only. Another proposal is to have passengers carry all their luggage to and from the plane themselves, or be charged significant fees. Another money maker under consideration by Ryanair is a coin slot on plane lavatories. Remember to pick up that pocket change at security.The idea of having airline passengers stand probably won't fly with the Federal Aviation Administration here in the U.S.