The Skyrider seat could be your saddle in the sky

An airline seat manufacturer wants to change the economy experience, but not in a way that looks anywhere near inviting.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German
2 min read

The Skyrider seat is enough to have you start saving for business class.

The Points Guy

We've all been there: Crammed into an economy class seat on a long flight while wondering, "Could I possibly be any more uncomfortable?"

Well, maybe you could. 

At the Airliners Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, last week, an Italian company showed the Skyrider 2.0, a "saddle seat" designed for an ultra-high-density economy cabin. More like a perch than a full seat, it supports your back and your behind while directing part of your weight down to a foot panel.

Watch this: Watch Boeing's 737 MAX 7 complete its first test flight

Since you're halfway standing up, the Skyrider gives you less legroom than you'd find anywhere in the sky today. The seat's pitch (the distance between a point on a row of seats and the same point on the row before it) is just 23 inches. That's 5 inches less than the seat pitch on Spirit Airlines, one of the most no-frills airlines there is.

Made by Aviointeriors, the Skyrider 2.0 is the second generation of a product the company first showed in 2010 (and to much derision). This time, the company added more padding and a refined arrangement for securing the seats in the cabin.

I wasn't in Hamburg so I can't tell you if the Skyrider is as terrifying as it looks. But JT Genter of The Points Guy says it wasn't so bad after 10 minutes. Granted, that's less time than it can take to push back from a gate. 

Aviointeriors has no airline customers for the Skyrider, though the company told Genter it has received "strong interest." Airline watchers may remember that Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary, who has a reputation for pitching unusual ideas for air travel, floated the concept of standing-room airplanes in 2014.

Airline interest or not, it's likely to be a long time before the Skyrider supports the backsides of flying passengers, if it ever does at all. Before it could fly, it would need to be certified by the FAA (and agencies in other countries) to support passengers in the event of a crash. 

What's more, since all modern aircraft can only carry up to a certain maximum number of people (so they can exit quickly in an emergency) airlines wouldn't be able to add the seats at will without any regulatory oversight. Here's one area where we can agree that government should not get out of the way.