Sunday, October 27, 2013

It’s not your imagination: smaller seats inside airplanes

Taking a plane today is really frequent. Maybe some travelers will find their trip no comfortable, because airplane seats are a little smaller than in the past. The standard seat measures is 17.2 to 18 inches, which means that a person with more than a 36 inch hip measurement will probably feel compressed in his seat.

Some airlines use their bigger seats as a promotion point. First class and business or executive class flights also offer wider spacesAnother essential difference in plane seats is the measurement between seats aligned vertically. This measurement, the pitch, has changed, significantly. In long trip, there is the incapability to move legs properly because of small pitches.

In the past, some groups tried to increase pitch, but as result the ticket prices rose since for the equivalent amount of fuel the airplane carried less people.

Additional chairs raise the capacity to generate more profit at a low marginal cost. However, a plane’s best seat depends on the operator’s marketing strategy. If an airline company is targeting price-sensitive consumers, for example leisure travelers, an airline will try to take full advantage of the number of seats in order to keep prices low. The solution should be to find the equilibrium between business and customers.

Today, the most important airlines companies are installing the “slim line” seats: removing old seats in favor of smaller seats, chair width to about 17”, adding five or six more seats on each aircraft.

The change will involve the most common planes on domestic and international itineraries, as results the airplane company will have more passengers and a decreased fuel bill because the seats are lighter.

Even though the new seats will be closer, Airlines companies declared that travelers will not notice it. For example customers on Alaska Airlines will have a little smaller tray tables, and Southwest’s 737s will have thinner seatback magazine pockets.

New seats on United Airlines’ Airbus A320 will be closer together from front to back. The airlines will be able to insert an additional row of six seats to each plane. For instance, Southwest will have from 137 seats from 143.

United declared that the new seats made A320 544 kilograms lighter. Southwest confirmed that the weight savings will cut about $10.3 million a year in fuel spending.

Delta Air Lines has already added extra smaller seats because rising density is a priority for them, from the viewpoint of maximizing income.

As a business traveler, I believe that the size of the seats is one of the crucial factors in the mood of the passenger on a plane. For a frequent business traveler, probably the plane is the best place where a person can spend the greatest amount of time in the peace outside the crowd business environment. Adopting this new strategy it means: extra seats at the expense of customer comfort. In the meantime first class passengers will still receive leg space. 

I hope this new challenge will not produce a negative effect on the industry.

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