Pakistan International Airlines is under investigation after allegedly allowing seven passengers to stand in the aisle for the duration of an international flight.
Although the airline refutes the claims, they have launched their own internal investigation into the incident.
The flight in question was on January 20 from Karachi, Pakistan to Medina, Saudi Arabia. According to a report published in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, staff on the ground issued handwritten (not computer-generated) boarding passes to the seven extra passengers.
"I had already taken off and the senior purser did not inform me about extra passengers before closing the aircraft door,” captain Anwer Adil told Dawn. "Therefore after take-off immediate landing back at Karachi was not possible as it required a lot of fuel dumping, which was not in the interest of the airline."
The seven passengers are reported to have remained standing in the aisle for the duration of the three-hour flight. Had there been any emergency, the extra passengers would not have had access to oxygen masks and they likely would have slowed down an evacuation.
A spokesperson for the airline told BBC that the matter was "under investigation and appropriate action will be taken once responsibility is fixed,” although he did not provide a timeframe. The same spokesperson told The Guardian that although they were investigating the incident, it is “not possible for anyone to travel like that in an aircraft.”
Standing room flights could, however, become a part of the future of aviation. Over the past few years, Airbus has toyed with the idea of standing room cabin configurations. The first standing seat configuration concept appeared in 2003 and featured passengers strapped to "vertical seats," which really weren't seats at all.
Many budget airlines have considered implementing standing seats, but their legality has often been called into question. Airbus has said it is “unlikely” that standing seats will ever appear on commercial passenger flights.