More than one-third of US adults are considered obese, CBS News reports. Now a French airplane manufacturer thinks it has a solution to keep those Americans comfortable when they take to the skies. According to NBC News, Airbus filed a patent application for a bench seat on Feb. 11. The patent shows three different seat-belt configurations that would allow three average-sized passengers, two obese passengers, or two adults with two small children to use the bench. The design also calls for various armrests that can pop down depending on the passenger configuration. The "utilization of space available in a passenger cabin is of major economic importance," the patent application notes. And seating in an aircraft "should be as flexibly, rapidly, and easily re-configurable as possible."
The patent application doesn't specifically mention obese passengers, focusing instead on families, senior citizens, and passengers with mobility issues. But CBS reports it could be used to charge obese passengers more, as the bench would otherwise be able to accommodate three to four passengers. An Airbus spokesperson says the company isn't necessarily developing the bench, as it files "hundreds of patents each year." But NBC notes the new design hasn't faced the quick online backlash usually seen by other proposed seating alternatives for obese passengers. However, there is one aspect to the new seats that could give all passengers pause: They don't recline. (Read more air travel stories.)