Airbus plane seat design
If things look cramped now, Airbus is proposing taking fitting more passengers in up another level iStock

If you thought flying economy was rough, business class passengers could be set to feel the pain too as Airbus has just filed a patent for a seat design that sees passengers stacked on top of each other. The aircraft manufacturer has proposed the idea for a mezzanine level of seats that could fill the overhead space in plane cabins in a bid to cram as many passengers in as possible.

Seat design has always been a bone of contention for engineers with the battle between utilitarian use of space and adequate comfort for passengers. This patent submitted to the US and European Patent Offices sees an upper level of seats set above the middle rows, or "un-used upper lobe" of the fuselage. They have the ability to recline and come complete with a bunk-bed-style ladder leading up to them. It is believed the design is intended for use within business class sections as it allows lie-flat seating − something not found in economy cabins.

Airbus stacking plane seat design
Airbus mezzanine level seating could be a headache for passengers below Airbus/European Patent Office
Airbus stacking plane seat design
Mind your head with this new stacking seat concept from Airbus Airbus/European Patent Office

From the patent diagrams it appears that when the upper seats are in the upright position it would effectively mean the passengers below would have an obstruction in front of their face. "In modern means of transport, in particular in aircraft, it is very important from an economic point of view to make optimum use of the available space in a passenger cabin," Airbus included in the patent.

Airbus stacking plane seat design
Making use of that empty space could increase profits Airbus/European Patent Office

If claustrophobic fears are gripping you, Airbus claims the design would come with a "high level of comfort" and ensure dangling feet wouldn't get in the way of the passengers below. Although how it would prevent falling bits of food or spilt drink was not mentioned.

However, it is doubtful this design would be adopted by airlines anytime soon. There are hundreds of patents filed every year by aircraft manufacturers and this is just another. It joins the recent concept for the latest airline cabin from Molon Labe that used a sliding-seat system to help make the process of boarding planes faster.