Airplane Seat Cushions: Stealthy Fart Filters of the Future?

HowStuffWorks NOW: Airplane Foolery: Stacking Passengers HowStuffWorks

In this video, we explored a few patents for airplane seat design, one that even features stacking passengers. Yep, butts suspended above heads.

Which brings up questions about how well our airplane seat cushions are engineered. And not necessarily for floating. But for trapping farts.


Consider that the average lactose-tolerant human passes gas about 14 to 20 times a day. We know this because gastroenterologist Michael Levitt created a baseline of normal flatus output when studying the effects of lactose intolerance.

Now consider that high-altitude air pressure changes can cause more gas to build up. And according to researchers, Pommergaarad et al, writing in the New Zealand Medical Journal, “Holding back flatus on an airplane may cause significant discomfort and physical symptoms, whereas releasing flatus potentially presents social complications.”

In the journal, the researchers beseech the airline industry to adopt technology that would allow farting with abandon by ameliorating its malodorous effects.

“To avoid this problem we humbly propose that active charcoal should be embedded in the seat cushion, since this material is able to neutralise the odour. Moreover active charcoal may be used in trousers and blankets to emphasise this effect.”

It gets better.

“Other less practical or politically correct solutions to overcome this problem may be to restrict access of flatus-prone persons from airplanes, by using a methane breath test or to alter the fibre content of airline meals in order to reduce its flatulent potential.”

Yes, installing stealthy charcoal filters is preferable to being singled out by a breathalyzer as an atomic tooter, only to be ushered off the plane in a cloud of fart shame.

We have the technology. Let's do this active charcoal thing.  

But let's not stack passengers on top of each other. If you haven't already, you can find out about more diabolical seating arrangements in the video above.


Frequently Answered Questions

What are the three types of seats on a plane?
The three types of seats on a plane are first class, business class, and economy class.
What are the different types of seats on planes?
First-class, business-class, and economy-class.