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Airlines use seating magic to squeeze in yet more pax

October 24, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Once upon a time, most international airlines buying new Boeing 777s chose to have economy class configured nine seats across. Since 2010, however, most of them have opted for 10 across. As a result, 70% of new B777s are configured that way. It means more passengers in the plane.

American Airlines’ latest B777s are configured 10-across in economy, with slightly narrower seats than on its older B777s.

Big airlines in America are removing older, bulkier seats and replacing them with new slimmer models. It’s a bit like low-profile tyres versus regular sarawak250x250tyres. The new slimline seats have a big advantage for the airlines – they allow the carriers to squeeze five or six more seats on each plane.

“Add a few inches of legroom and airlines can charge more for tickets,” the Miami Herald notes in a recent article. “Take away a few inches and they can fit more seats on the plane”.

New seats generally have thinner padding. Add that to aisles which are just a little narrower and you have a tighter, slightly more cramped and perhaps less comfortable ride – but more money for the airlines. This trend, needless to say, is in economy class. It is accompanied by plusher and finer seats in the front of the plane.

The B787 Dreamliner gives plenty of options. The B787 is designed typically to seat 234 passengers in a three-class setup, 240 in two-class domestic configuration, and 296 passengers in a high-density economy arrangement. Economy-class seats can be placed seven, eight or nine abreast on the B787. Jetstar, which received its first B787 a couple of weeks ago, opts for nine abreast.

In America, new seats being installed on Southwest’s 737s have thinner seatback magazine pockets, while those on Alaska Airlines have slightly smaller tray tables. New seats being installed in United Airlines’ A320s are an inch (2.5cm) closer together from front to back, while Southwest’s new seats are a little nearer each other. In both cases, the airlines were able to add an extra row of six seats to each plane, according to the Miami Herald. Both airlines insist the new seats are just as comfortable.

Other airlines are performing seat tricks with padding and light composite materials. A lighter seat means less weight for the plane to carry, equating to less fuel burn and more money saved. Add a few extra passengers to that equations and it all adds up.

Written by : Peter Needham

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