Airbus could seat obese passengers on benches

Story highlights

  • Airbus has filed a patent for a "reconfigurable passenger bench seat"
  • Adjustable, detachable seat belts can accommodate passengers of all sizes
  • The debate about how to cope with obese travelers has become heated in recent years

(CNN)Travel can be tricky for passengers of larger girth. For years, travelers have been getting wider, while airline seats have been getting smaller. Not to mention the fact that heavier fliers are too often rewarded with ridicule from their thinner cohorts.

Airbus might have a solution: replace individual seats with rows of benches.
    The re-configurable bench seat: One size fits all.
    The aircraft manufacturer -- which in 2013 spearheaded a campaign to make 18-inches the industry standard for seat width -- has filed a patent for a "reconfigurable passenger bench seat," which could accommodate not only larger passengers, but small children as well.
    Adjustable, detachable seat belts would ensure that all passengers are locked in, regardless of size.
    The patent, which was published last month, comes out at a time when the debate about how to deal with obese travelers has become particularly heated.
    In the last few years, obese passengers have been denied boarding, shamed in online forums and named as the cause in an Etihad lawsuit (a passenger sued for being forced to sit next to a "grossly overweight" passenger).
    In 2013, Samoa Air started charging passengers by weight, and introduced an XL class for larger passengers. Last year Uzbekistan Airways decided to weigh passengers "for safety."