Would you buy half a seat on a plane so you wouldn’t have to fight for the armrest?
That’s what Michael Batt, a former airline executive and founder of Travel Leaders Group, has suggested. Batt, who oversees 6,000 travel agencies, was speaking at this week's Global Business Travel Association meeting in San Diego when he floated the idea in a panel discussion on the so-called sharing economy— the business model based around connecting people represented by startups like Airbnb, Uber and ZipCar.
Batt said airlines could sell half-seats for 50 percent of the fare, so passengers would essentially be buying a seat and a half. It would be a win-win for the airlines and passengers, he noted.
For airlines, it would bring in new revenue and allow airlines to sell the dreaded middle seat. Batt said that it would also save the airlines money on fuel costs, and with fewer passengers, it would lighten the load on the already overtaxed cabin crew.
In terms of the traveler, it would mean more space, especially for those who can’t afford the business or first class fares, and overall less baggage in the overhead and less passengers on the plane.
So will any airlines embrace the idea? FoxNews.com reached out to several airlines, including United and Delta.
Spokesmen from both United and Delta said that their representative airlines are not looking into the idea at this time.
“That is something that Delta has not taken a position on, nor would we want to,” said Paul Skrbec.
Brian Kelly, founder the of the blog ThePointsGuys, says although it’s a compelling idea, consumers just wouldn’t pay for the extra girth –at least not at 50 percent of a cost of a regular ticket.
“I don’t see the premium of getting half on one side,” said Kelly adding, “There'd be no legroom and as a 6'7" traveler - that is key.”
He noted that airlines already sell premium economy seats that give travelers extra legroom and the ability to recline further —at a fraction of what Batt is proposing.
While prices for premium economy seats can vary dramatically, some airlines advertise extra legroom and recline for as little as $40 extra.
Also, for the airlines, fewer passengers means less revenue collected from baggage fees, over-priced food and cocktails, and the like.
And one more thing: Carriers would have to work out a way to clearly mark the space for each passenger. Otherwise all sorts of petty in-cabin fights between passengers who paid for the precious extra inches will surely break out.