In the endless quest for more, more, more—whether it’s more efficiency, more profit potential, more customer satisfaction or other factors—Airbus has come up with a creative way to squeeze even more people onto airplanes: stacked airline seats.

The aircraft manufacturer filed a patent application that outlines possible aircraft seating designs for taking advantage of all that extra overhead space, with seat rows staggered between floor seats and raised seats. Elevated rows are dubbed “mezzanine” seating in the patent—a fancy way of stating the goal of cramming more seats in metal tubes.

“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,” the patent reads. “In order to still more-efficiently use the space in a passenger cabin of an aircraft [Airbus] proposes to position an elevated deck structure on a main deck floor in the passenger cabin of a wide-body aircraft for providing a mezzanine seating area in a substantially unused upper lobe of the aircraft fuselage.”

stacked airline seats

While the idea is stacked airline seats is likely to become fodder for jokes and knee-jerk fear of super-cramped quarters and even-more-awkward appearances of bare feet on planes, a close look at designs of the seating arrangements reveals some potential positives.

The language in the patent application gets very technical (talking about the longitudinal axis of a seat relative to another, supporting surfaces and such), but it explains that several of the possible designs for stacked seat layouts actually provide more room for passengers on the upper and lower levels, and seats can be reclined more than most current airline seats, up to a full 180 degrees (as shown in the illustration below). It also explains the possible inclusion of ottomans.

stacked airline seats

This patent application comes a little over a year after Airbus filed another one, for upright seating, that made waves. Nothing has come of that yet, so who knows when or if stacked airline seats will become a reality—or if it will just be material for comedians’ bits about air travel.