STANDING-ROOM FLIGHTS : Seat Belts Aren’t Needed ?

Is the era of standing-room airline flights upon us? Michael O’Leary, CEO of Europe’s Ryanair, said he believes that airline regulators are overreaching by requiring seat belts on flights. Passengers who’d prefer to stand — and presumably pay less to travel — should have that right, he said. “If there ever was a crash on an aircraft, God forbid, a seat belt won’t save you,” O’Leary told the Telegraph. “Seat belts don’t matter.” He elaborated on this thinking by observing that “you don’t need a seat belt on the London Underground.

You don’t need a seat belt on trains which are traveling at 120 miles per hour. “If they crash,” he pointed out, “you’re all dead.” O’Leary has proposed removing the back 10 rows of seats on his planes, allowing passengers to travel on their feet. During takeoff and landing, he said, you’d just have to “hang on to the handle.”

Of course, less-progressive thinkers might wonder about turbulence. They might be anticipating that standing-room travelers could get thrown around pretty intensely amid aviation bumpiness. Not to worry. O’Leary said there isn’t a lot of turbulence out there, at least “around Europe.” Moreover, he says, landings aren’t so rough.

“We operate 1,500 flights a day,” O’Leary said. “They don’t come skidding in. This is a very routine, safe form of travel.” And profitable, if you can squeeze more bodies onto a flight. What are a few bruises and broken limbs compared with that? ( By David Lazarus from )