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Transportation

Redesigned Seats Let Airlines Squeeze In More Passengers 466

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-long-until-they-give-you-a-stool dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "AP reports that U.S. airlines are taking out old, bulky seats in favor of so-called slimline models that take up less space from front to back, allowing for five or six more seats on each plane. This gives airlines two of their favorite things: more paying passengers, and a smaller fuel bill (the seats are slightly lighter). Whether the new seats are really closer together depends on how you measure. By the usual measure, called 'pitch,' the new ones are generally an inch closer together from front to back as measured at the armrest. The seats Southwest has put on nearly its entire fleet are 31 inches apart, about an inch less than before, allowing them to to add an extra row of six seats to each plane. International passengers are feeling crowded, too. As recently as 2010, most airlines buying Boeing's big 777 opted for nine seats across. Now it's 10 across on 70 percent of newly-built 777s, Boeing says. American's newest 777s are set up 10-across in coach, with slightly narrower seats than on its older 777s. Airlines say you won't notice. And the new seats are designed to minimize this problem. Airplane seats from 30 years ago looked like your grandmother's BarcaLounger, says Jami Counter, senior director at SeatGuru.com, which tracks airline seats and amenities. 'All that foam cushion and padding probably didn't add all that much comfort. All that's been taken out,' he said. 'You haven't really lost all that much if the airline does it right.'"
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Redesigned Seats Let Airlines Squeeze In More Passengers

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  • by Bruce66423 (1678196) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:22AM (#45163223)
    Every plane trip you go on will offer you a life jacket. In the past 60 years, I'm confident that a life jacket hasn't saved a life, but it's cost a fortune in fuel over that time...
  • Can I just stand? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bongo (13261) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:25AM (#45163235)

    Would be comfier at this rate.

  • by Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:31AM (#45163271)

    I've more or less stopped flying because of all the nuisance fees combined with the delay/hassle of security screening at the airport. If I need to get somewhere REALLY far away, I'll bite the bullet, but for the most part I've switched to trains and driving.

  • by confused one (671304) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:34AM (#45163291)
    Funny you're so confident about that. You should go back and look at the water landings and ask the survivors if they used their flotation seats or life jackets. Life jackets and flotation seats were added, FAA rules making them mandatory, for a reason. While most of the water landings included fatalities, I'm confident the fatality rate would have been higher without the life jackets.
  • by gnalre (323830) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:36AM (#45163299)

    Jami Counter, senior director at SeatGuru.com, which tracks airline seats and amenities. 'All that foam cushion and padding probably didn't add all that much comfort. All that's been taken out,' he said. 'You haven't really lost all that much if the airline does it right.'"

    He shouted from business class.

    I wonder if we made a law that said all airline executives had to fly economy whether they would be so keen to make these changes

  • by Durrik (80651) <{pwright} {at} {ryksyll.com}> on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:38AM (#45163315) Homepage
    You might have the same problem I have. But I don't think I'll notice the change personally. I'm 6'4" tall (190cm) and I'm in pain if I don't get up from those seats at least every two hours and walk to the bathroom. I have a hard time getting into them now as it is, and usually I fly on short notice and I'm stuck in the middle. I'm quite sure that the airlines are having some sort of joke on the big guys, and see how many they can sit next to each other.

    The last time I flew internationally (10 hour flight from Seattle to Amsterdam) I got lucky and upgraded to 'comfort' class and the booking agent apologized that I was tuck in the bulkhead row. Stuck? Man that was comfortable I could stretch out. But she was able to do better on the way back, and got me a proper seat. That was painful, and cramped. I had to get the guy on the aisle to let me out 5 times, and each time I was moving like an old man (and I'm not that old).

    So I don't think I'll notice the loose of 1 little inch. My knees already run into the back of the seat in front of me. My shoulders already overflow onto the seats besides me. I might notice that my butt will be snug in the seats though.

    But if they're jamming more people onto the plane, are they increasing the overhead bin capacity? When I fly I always take a small roller bag for my clothes and a laptop bag. I usually get these stowed (roller bag up top and laptop bag under the seat in front of course) but its usually cramped, and people who come in late always seem to try to jam in on top of everything. Somehow I doubt it as that is passenger convenience, and some airlines (I'm looking at you American) are charging for every checked bag you have. They're currently offering the checked carry on for free, but that might change in the future.
  • by twicepending (936496) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:41AM (#45163341) Homepage Journal
    "The seats Southwest has put on nearly its entire fleet are 31 inches apart, about an inch less than before"
    " Boeing says. American's newest 777s are set up 10-across in coach"

    I'm 6'6" (198cm) and on behalf of tall people everywhere can I express a warm and heartfelt welcome to this policy of even further reducing the amount of room available, if this trend continues soon the we tall people will only be able to fly coach by adopting the Dwi Pada Sirsasana pose which if nothing else should please yoga instructors.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:43AM (#45163365) Journal

    I read an extra Coke can costs about $500 a year in fuel. Still that's not that much per flight, like less than a dollar.

    I'll happily budget less than a dollar per flight, for me anyway, don't know about the gp, for a floatation device.

    As for fuel itself, I'll happily burn all the oil in Saudi Arabia to save my life.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday October 18, 2013 @08:51AM (#45163427) Journal

    without pushing the seatback back (which I never like doing if there is someone behind me, I think airlines should remove that option)

    Why? If the person in front of me in a flight pushes their seat back, then it moves the bottom forward very slightly, so I get about half a centimetre of knee room, and it moves the (small) screen of the in-flight entertainment system closer to my eyes. The seats are designed not to be made more uncomfortable when the person in front of you leans back...

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Friday October 18, 2013 @09:03AM (#45163521)

    If people just go to their favorite travel website and sort flights by cost this will continue to happen. Consumers are giving the signal they care about nothing other than cost. If it becomes uncomfortable enough that people select airlines based on comfort over price the airlines will respond. They just want the money. If they could get away with charging more for bean bag seats they would respond.

    Is there even a way to sort flights by leg room (or other seat size parameter) on any travel website? Even if one knew the seat pitches in the aircraft that a given airline uses from external sources, one doesn't necessarily know what "equipment" is being used for any given flight. And even then, they're not all necessarily furnished identically. And your plane could change any time between booking and boarding. If you know of a way to do it, I want to know.

    And besides, even wishing for this sort of thing will surely prompt some Slashdot griefer to call me "entitled" for stating my product and service preferences.

  • by blackm0k (2589601) on Friday October 18, 2013 @09:17AM (#45163653)
    I do not share this experience. Typically, when the seat in front of me is pushed back, it collides with my knee-caps, sometimes in a fairly painful manner. After that the flight becomes a few hours of my legs being restricted to one fairly uncomfortable position.
  • by cjjjer (530715) <cjjjerNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday October 18, 2013 @09:27AM (#45163757)
    No, more of them will need to buy two seats.
  • by epine (68316) on Friday October 18, 2013 @10:01AM (#45164121)

    I'm 6'7". I do my best not to fly (don't really want to be sexually abused) but when I have to, I am fucking miserable.

    Yeah, tell me about it. I'm 6'4" (plus a 1/2" extra in the morning) but I have an especially long torso, so we'd probably be eye to eye sitting down. I don't know about you, but the seat in front of me prevents me from slouching the least bit, when I lean my head back on the head rest, my gaze is vertical. It's pretty close to a 90 degree bend, which I try out just for shits and giggles, while other people find ways to sleep.

    Pro tip for tall fliers: the foam cushion usually rips off the aluminum seat frame (Velcro). If your ass can handle sitting on the hard, cold metal you might manage enough of a head rest to get a half hour snooze in the mid-flight red-eye hour of total desperation. I've done this many times.

    I got stuck on the apron at Schiphol once while they replaced a starter motor. The middle-aged Germanic woman beside me had tree-trunk thighs, clad in tight black neoprene. Our thighs met in a thermonuclear embrace on my side of the arm rest for our entire stay on the apron, plus the return flight to Montreal.

    At this point, the airlines can go fuck themselves. I'd rather not leave the ground.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 18, 2013 @10:04AM (#45164153)

    No, they'll just take up half my seat while the airline expects me to suffer in silence.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday October 18, 2013 @10:46AM (#45164687)

    The seats don't recline to make much of a difference for sleep. If you can sleep reclined, you can sleep upright. I would also argue that at your height, you have no idea what it means to have a seat reclined into your lap. Once you hit the critical limit of 190 and over, your knees physically touch the seat in front of you, even if both are upright. Someone reclining their seat can result in a very sudden impact on your kneecaps. So I do appreciate it when people at least carefully recline their seat and don't kneecap me.

    People like you, on the other hand.... a pox on you for not thinking about the ramifications of your actions.

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Friday October 18, 2013 @10:56AM (#45164829)

    Fuck the airlines.

    Interesting view given that flights seem to get cheaper every year.

    You can still get the same leg room you had 20 years ago, you just have to pay the same price you did 20 years ago and fly business class or better.

    I mean shit man I can get to the other side of the world in a day, cheaply, or on short notice! Don't fuck the airlines, praise the airlines.

  • by MitchDev (2526834) on Friday October 18, 2013 @11:01AM (#45164881)

    "This gives airlines two of their favorite things: more paying passengers, and a smaller fuel bill (the seats are slightly lighter)."

    Exactly, the seats are negligible in weight compared to the passengers themselves. I bet the extra 5-6 passengers easily outweigh the "lighter seats" by 10-30 times. Especially when you add any luggage and/or carryons....

    All this will do is piss off more people and turn them off to flying unless absolutely necessary.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday October 18, 2013 @11:16AM (#45165089) Homepage Journal

    My knees already run into the back of the seat in front of me.

    The most reasonable measure of airplane seating would be a tuple: the distance from the seat to the seat back in front - the latter in both in upright and reclined mode.

    I'm an inch shorter than you, and frankly I'd rather sit on a metal chair with no cushioning and humanitarian leg room than a cushioned seat with no leg room.

    Heaven forbid there's ever an accident - tall people will probably wind up with fractured femurs or hips or both. No safety specs on that?

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday October 18, 2013 @12:09PM (#45165773)

    All this will do is piss off more people and turn them off to flying unless absolutely necessary.

    I doubt if most people will notice. When making flying decisions, most passengers care about three things:
    1. cost of the tickets
    2. fares
    3. ticket prices
    Discount airlines that have cut amenities to reduce costs, have thrived.
    Speaking for myself, I have a family to support, and renting a comfortable seat for a few hours is not a priority.
    If a thinner seat allows the airline to cut $20 off the price, that is fine with me.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Friday October 18, 2013 @01:26PM (#45166747)
    The summary doesn't make it clear, but while the seats are getting closer, your legroom is remaining the same because the reduced inch is coming out of the seat's thickness. What's more worrying is the switch to narrower seats. 10-abreast seating in 777s was the normal configuration in Asia, where people tend to have narrower waists (there was an uproar at the 1988 Seoul Olympics because some of the stadium seating was too narrow for Western behinds).

    If you want more legroom and the bulkhead seating is taken, arrive for your flight early and ask to be moved to an emergency exit row. In the U.S. at least, the airlines are not allowed to assign people to this row until the agent can visually confirm that the person is fit and capable of opening and lifting the emergency exit door (weighs about 35-50 lbs). The seats don't recline, but you'll get tons of legroom as they're spaced far enough apart to make an aisle for people to exit the aircraft through.
  • by spyfrog (552673) on Friday October 18, 2013 @04:46PM (#45169523) Homepage
    A business class option? Do you really mean that we tall guys should pay about twice for a ticket? Why isn't there an a bit more expensive option with more legroom without the bloated price of business class. Also - on many flights so isn't business class any more legroom. They might be wider but often no more legroom

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