Airplane seats are shrinking but airlines insist that new technology and better seat design will stop customers from complaining or even realizing their space has been once again minimized.
Airlines over the last decade have attempted to fight against rising fuel costs by adding new baggage fees, food fees, and other costs. In some cases extra seats have been jammed into aircraft at the expense of customer comfort.
Today U.S. airlines are installing what they call “slimline” seats which feature less padding, smaller seatbacks, and other streamlined features.
New seats, measured by “pitch” are an inch closer, on average, from front to back while measured from the armrest. However, airlines say the customers “above the knee” personal space is still equal or better than past models. Of course that measurement does nothing for people with long legs.
Here is a list of changes being made by several US airlines:
- Southwest’s 737s: Thinner seatback magazine pockets.
- Alaska Airlines: Smaller tray tables
- United Airlines: New seats put the magazine pocket above the tray table. Seat-makers save space with lighter-weight frames and padding.
Based on the new setups United Airlines’ Airbus A320s seats inch closer together from front to back, while the new seats at Southwest are around 31 inches apart, almost a loss of a full inch. Both of those airlines were able to add a new row of six seats to each plane.
United Airlines says the A320’s are now 1,200 pounds lighter and will save the company $10 million per year in fuel spending. Southwest airlines says the change adds 4% extra capacity to its overall fleet without adding a single new jetliner.
Customers surveyed about the new seats shared both indifference and disappointment. Some customers claimed that they couldn’t stretch out as much as they had in the past. Other customers said they already felt “packed in like sardines” and therefore the change did very little to hurt their perception of flying.
To put the trend in perspective, Boeing 777’s purchased before 2010 features nine seats across. Planes purchased after 2010 moved to 10 across during 70 percent of all orders.
With more seats being jammed across airplanes aisles are becoming even skinnier than they were in the past.
In the meantime first class passengers still receive the leg space they are accustomed to and in some cases new first class seats have been added in place of coach customer comfort.
Yesterday The Inquisitr reported on an airline customer who was forced to purchase two seats in different rows because of their weight. It looks like morbidly obese passengers aren’t the only people who will find themselves being shoved into seats.