Airplane Seats Are Still Getting Smaller

June 4, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

The airline industry has a lot of potential for innovation, as evidenced by a few of the recent articles we’ve posted. For example, one of the topics we’ve discussed lately is upcoming innovations in air travel. We’ve also covered potential innovations in airline seating, but here’s one trend on the rise that we’re not too excited about: smaller airline seats.

One trend we’ve seen and will continue to see is airlines finding more ways to cut costs, whether that means using lighter weight materials to construct airplanes or using biofuels to power jet engines. And now a report from NBC confirms that seats in airplanes have indeed gotten smaller.

English: New interior on Delta Air Lines' Boei...

English: New interior on Delta Air Lines’ Boeing 737-800 fleet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Evidently, many airlines have taken 130-passenger seat cabins and expanded them to 150-passenger seat cabins to gain additional revenue — space that has primarily been found by using smaller seats. Some airlines are even looking into making those tiny airplane bathrooms even more compact in an effort to squeeze another row of passengers into the cabin. Taller individuals beware!

Another reason airline seats are feeling smaller is that planes are more crowded now than they have been in years. In the past, overbooked flights would have no problem finding a passenger or two to take a later flight in exchange for ticket vouchers. But because flights are so full, the next flight out may not be for a while. Thus, finding passengers to voluntarily take another flight is becoming more and more difficult. Passengers may not enjoy being packed elbow-to-elbow with the person next to them, but even more than that, passengers dislike being marooned in an airport for hours while they wait to board another flight.

Regardless of the uproar that ever-smaller seats, a shrinking on-board bathroom, and more crowded flights might cause with airline travelers, these frustrations outweigh the inconvenience of finding alternative transportation. Although, with the potential future changes in the travel industry such the growing popularity of light-rail systems, airlines may find themselves having to provide improved accommodations to customers just to keep them coming back for more.

The NBC report also said that even though customers continue to find reasons to complain (such as discomfort from small or crowded conditions), airlines are making improvements in timeliness and remaining on schedule. Perhaps what travelers will find is that in exchange for getting to their destination without delays, they must sit in cramped quarters for the duration of the flight. And as an alternative idea, we suggest that you consider taking up an airline’s offer of vouchers for a free flight if your plane is overbooked. Just make sure that those vouchers are in first class.


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