Airbus Asks Airlines To Please Stop It With The Super-Narrow Seats

airbusvisShaving just a few inches off an airplane seat’s dimensions can make room for additional seats on the aircraft, but what do narrower seats do to passengers’ ability to relax during longer flights? The folks at French jet-maker Airbus say wider seats can result in more well-rested passengers.

Airbus is calling on airlines to make 18″ wide seats the standard for long-haul economy seats. As you can see from this SeatGuru chart, the majority of jets used for these flights have seats that are narrower than 18″, some as narrow as 16″.

While that small difference might not seem like much, Airbus claims that a study by the London Sleep Centre shows that passengers in 18″ seats enjoy a significantly better rest than those in 17″ seats. According to the study, passengers in 18″ seats reported a 53% improvement in sleep quality, falling asleep faster and staying asleep for longer periods of time.

“We’re arguing that one inch makes all the difference,” says the Airbus Head of Passenger Comfort, presumably between rounds of checking to see if you’d like a beverage or a pair of headphones. “That extra one inch basically allows you the wiggle room, allows the space around hips and shoulders and elbows so you are not in permanent contact with your neighbor.”

Airbus is making this push in advance of the expected 2014 release of its A350 jet, which it has designed around 18″ seats. But while the plane may be set up for these relatively luxurious seats, airlines may still order A350s with the narrower seats travelers are currently squeezing themselves into. As long as an airline’s seating request meets regulatory safety standards, Airbus will honor it.

In addition to narrow seats, airlines have recently turned to thinner seat-backs in order to squeeze additional seats onto jets. These seats are also lighter than existing airline seating to make up for the weight of the additional passengers.

Airbus Is Trying to Convince Airlines to Make More Room for Your … Behind [Time.com]

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  1. JBY1978 says:

    Im 6 foot 2 and every little bit counts. I travel mostly overseas and it’s not often I can sleep let alone land without a full body cramp. Its about time they start thinking about experience over profit.

  2. smirkette says:

    Will passengers be able to see what kind of seats are installed on the plane before purchasing their tickets? If so, I will do everything in my power to avoid these new narrower seats–the ones they currently have are already pretty uncomfortable.

  3. Draccy says:

    It’s interesting that the airline industry has morphed into such an unfriendly, anti-consumer mode. I’m not old enough to remember their heyday, but even when I was a kid in the late 70s/early 80s, you could still expect airlines to treat you approximately like a human being.

    Somewhere along the line, the airlines, with a few exceptions, seem to have decided that it’s more profitable to be in the “companies we love to hate but have to use” category.

    The seat width issue is probably not one that the manufacturers will win. The airlines can use it as a bargaining chip; they wield the power in that relationship.

    • CerneV2 says:

      In general I think people expect all air travel to suck now and therefor just purchase tickets based on price rather than service, creating a vicious cycle where all air travel sucks.

  4. CerneV2 says:

    I’m 6’6″ and have very wide shoulders. Small seats are planes are a constant ordeal for me.