HOT or NOT: Ryanair’s Standing Room Only Airplane Cabin

Next week, my family and I will be going on vacation to California, which is a problem because I’ve never really been a fan of planes. (This is my calm way of saying “Walking across the country on stilts during a record-breaking, country-wide hail storm sounds more appealing than flying across the country in a giant metal machine,” because airplanes are a really troubling subject for me.) It is for this reason that I suspect Ryanair’s bizarre proposal has always stuck in my mind. When, two years ago, the company’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, suggested a “standing room only” cabin, I fell into a shock-induced coma and woke up two years later with a million burning questions. After researching the subject in-depth, I realized that the idea was not so clear-cut, and now I don’t really know what to think about the whole thing. Here’s my internal debate put into words:


– A plane ticket would almost be cheaper than a bag of Top Ramen.

In the US, a bag of Top Ramen costs about 89-99 cents. (As a future unemployed college grad, I’m basically required to stay updated on the price of cheap food products.) If Michael O’Leary gets his way, a standing room only plane ticket would cost about 1 British Pound, or about 1.50 in American money. So essentially, you could travel from one European country to another (the cabin would only be an option for those travelling within Europe) for a little more than an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts. With the state of the economy these days, I don’t know many people who wouldn’t at least consider this idea, if only for a millisecond.

– You could pretend it was a magical flying bus and not a plane.

When asked about the concern over seat belts in these cabins, O’Leary explained that “[A plane] is just a bloody bus with wings,” and “if there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seat belt won’t save you” (AmericaNowNews). Ignoring the fact that this is 100% not true (we’ll get to that later), the Irishman does bring up an interesting idea. If you think about it, standing on a plane holding onto a little wall handle would kind of make you feel like you’re on a flying bus. In fact, it may be the closest thing we’ll get to that flying car from Harry Potter, so we should probably take advantage of this opportunity ASAP.

– You’d be closer to the bathroom, just in case.

You never know when motion sickness can strike. Luckily, the standing room only cabin will be at the back of the plane, making anyone willing to risk their life eligible for the emergency bathroom spots.


– It is definitely not safe (or legal).

Under the current system, though, all passengers on an aircraft are required to have their seat belt fastened, so that means no flying cars for awhile, or possibly ever. Michael O’Leary’s theory about the uselessness of seat belts is entirely false. I swear, it’s like he’s never watched a movie/TV show about survivors of an airplane crash. Just look at this screenshot from ABC’s show, LOST. (I saw it on TV so it must be true, right? Isn’t that how television works?)

– Taking-off/Landing would be a very uncomfortable experience.

Trying to maintain your balance on a crowded subway when the train suddenly comes to a halt is one thing but not falling over when the plane moves at an angle is another. A standing room only cabin would only lead to one too many accidental hip-checking incidents, which doesn’t seem worth the discount.

– It would complicate the other luxuries of plane rides.

As a nervous flyer, I often comfort myself with the thought of receiving complimentary food or drinks to hold myself over until we arrive at our destination. It’s the little things in life, you know? While I’m sure you would still get these services in the standing room only cabin, I highly doubt they will be as enjoyable. Imagine standing there holding a nice, cold ginger ale and nibbling on some snacks, when all of a sudden, turbulence hits and your drink is dripping down the back of the person in front of you and there’s a pretzel lodged in your throat. As if plane rides could get any worse.

Despite the very tempting price tag, Ryanair earns a NOT from me due to the complete lack of safety precautions in this case. When Michael O’Leary says seat belts simply “don’t matter” (a real quote), it makes me question the existence of his brain, because they totally matter. Seat belts save lives, whether they are in a car or on a plane. I’m still not sure why some buses don’t even include seat belts, as if they’re immune to car accidents. Mysteries of life…

But what do you guys think? Would a “standing room only” cabin be HOT or NOT?

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