The Irish budget airline Ryanair wants to introduce “standing-room only” areas on its flights, with passengers strapped into so-called vertical seats. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary will set out proposals today that include charging customers to use the loo, the Daily Telegraph reports.
A standing area with “vertical seats” will be introduced at the back of its fleet of 250 planes. Speaking on ITV’s “How To Beat the Budget Airlines,” Ryanair chief executive said that the initative forms part of a wider plan to revolutionise budget air travel and change passenger behaviour.
The Irishman said he intended to introduce coin-operated loos and added: “The other change we’ve been looking at is taking out the last 10 rows of seats so we will have 15 rows of seats and the equivalent of 10 rows of standing area.”
A Ryanair spokesman said that Boeing had been consulted over refitting the fleet with “vertical seats” which would allow passengers to be strapped in while standing up, which would cost between £4 and £8 per person.
Safety testing will be carried out next year. However, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the plans would struggle to meet safety requirements.
He said: “It’s aviation law that people have to have a seat-belt on from take-off and landing so they would have to be in a seat. I don’t know how Mr O’Leary would get around that one. During turbulence passengers also have to have a seat-belt on.”
Ryanair spokesperson Stephen McNamara said: “We are very confident that the seats can pass safety tests. Boeing can put a man on the moon so I am sure they are able to make these a success.” The airline has promised that the new seats will adhere to all current safety regulations which apply to normal aircraft seating.
Passengers would still wear a seat belt which would go over their shoulder in a similar style to the type of seats often used by cabin crew during flights. Ryanair hope to fund the changes to the cabin by charging passengers £1 to use the toilet during flights.
To make way for the vertical seats Ryanair is considering removing two toilets from the back of the aircraft and a number of rows of standard seats to accommodate around 40 to 50 extra people per flight. Though unconventional, research by the airline showed that the public would consider flying in the new seats – as long as it was cheaper than flying normally.
“We polled about 120,000 passengers, 80,000 said they would consider the seats if they were free, 42 per cent said they would use the seats if the fare was half that of a traditional seat,” McNamara said. “The appeal of doing this is that it makes costs lower for the airline, and hopefully we can pass those savings over to the passengers, so fares will come down.”