Its cushions are shaped liked bicycle saddles, and when the seats aren't being used, they fold vertically to save space. Cutting down all that "bulk," as the patent application puts it, lets you do a lot more with the limited real estate on board.
This could potentially make air travel even more economical than it already is. If you're willing to put up with it — and most people would be, Airbus predicts, so long as the flights are short — it'd be far more efficient than the way we currently fly, loading huge metal-and-plastic contraptions onto planes just so they can cradle our fleshy rear ends.
But if you squint, the thing looks more like a medieval torture device than lounging equipment. Not to mention all the features you'd lose: Do people eat from their laps? Plug headphones into that pipe-shaped thing? Do the cushions float? And even with all the leg room it looks like you'd open up, reclining looks practically impossible.
Airbus openly acknowledges that packing more passengers on board is going to result in reduced comfort, and that the goal is basically to figure out how far they can go without inciting an airborne revolt.
"Reduced comfort remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours," Airbus sagely calculates, before going on to explain why reducing leg room provides diminishing returns:
"This second solution has also been pursued hitherto," the patent application reads, "and it is difficult to continue to further reduce this distance between the seats because of the increase in the average size of the passengers."
Yes, defending your God-given right to leg room has come down to using your waistline as a weapon.
Zooming out for a wider view only enhances the likeness to an ancient Greek galley. Windows might soon be replaced by oars, or a handlebar-bike pedal combination. On the bright side, perhaps manual labor might lead to modest airfare refunds.
Who am I kidding? Your complimentary in-flight beatings will continue until morale improves.