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Airbus files patent for saddle seats on planes

Airbus's patented saddle seats: No word yet on whether the in-flight menu will feature sardines.

Story highlights

  • Airbus publishes patent for folding saddle seats with low backrests
  • Vertical seat design packs more passengers into cabins
  • Spokesperson says patent application does not mean design will be developed

For air travelers who like to gripe about being cramped in economy, here comes another warning that they've never had it so good.

Airbus has filed a patent application showing detailed renderings of what may be the plane seat of the future.

The design shows narrow rows of folding saddle seats with low backrests on which passengers perch rather than recline.

The patent application, which makes even the most budget of budget airline seating look luxurious, was published last month and is available for viewing by the public.

Are you a window flier or aisle seater?

As CNN reported last week, a new study says the vertical passenger seat may be the next big cost-cutting move in aviation.

    The Skyrider is another saddle seat design that was unveiled in 2010.

    Upright seat designs would allow airlines to pack more passengers into a cabin and provide an affordable alternative to public transportation on short haul flights.

    The patent says current seating configurations have reached their passenger limit but numbers can be increased by switching to saddle-style designs (presumably stowing travelers in the overhead compartments has been ruled out).

    It says the saddle format will accommodate four seats into a space previously occupied by three.

    The Airbus design is somewhat similar to the SkyRider, a perching saddle for planes developed by Italian firm Aviointeriors and unveiled at an expo in 2010.

    READ: World's most luxurious passenger jets revealed

    If Airbus is looking for positive feedback for its design, it may struggle.

    The UK's Daily Telegraph likened the patent to "the inside of a galley," under the headline "The world's most uncomfortable plane seat?"

    An Airbus spokesperson told CNN that the patent didn't necessarily mean it would be saddling up its aircraft anytime soon.

    "Airbus files hundreds of patents each year -- this is what innovative companies do," Airbus UK head of media relations Robert Gage said via email.

    Straight from the Airbus drawing board.

    "Many patents never become reality and there is no expectation that this would. It is really to preserve an idea and has not developed beyond this stage."

    Gage said that even if the designs were to be developed, it would be up to airlines would choose the seating configurations and type.

    MORE: See-through cabins and passenger pods: Is this the future of flight?