Airbus Latin America

Market Trends

Wider Seats for Wider People

More Articles March 2011

Wider Seats for Wider People

Ask any frequent traveler if they have found themselves seated in Economy Class next to a passenger who is bigger than them. It happens all the time. In fact it happens more and more often because no matter where you live in the world people are getting bigger. The phenomenon is driven by economic growth, which translates itself broadly into people living more sedentary lifestyles and eating more.

This presents a real challenge to airlines, aircraft manufacturers designers and seat designers. Over the last 10 years we've seen the introduction of successive models of the slim-line Economy seat. People used to think that a thicker cushions meant a more comfortable seat, but new, advanced foam materials have allowed designers to remove up to two 2 inches (5cm) from the seat’s backrest. This development came in two stages: the first inch improved passengers' legroom, but in the continuous search for lower fares, the second inch allowed airlines to put an extra row of seats in the aircraft.

The latest seats are more comfortable, but they cannot continue to become thinner. Passengers are becoming more conscious of the width of their seat, and in recent years there has been a greater adoption of the 18-inch wide seats - available as an option on Airbus aircraft - than the traditional 17-inch wide seats of older aircraft. For long-range aircraft, the flagship A380 offers the widest Economy seat you can get, at a generous 19-inches.

But does one inch (2.5cm) make a difference? Next time you fly, try placing your lap-top or your book between your hip and the armrest, and you will feel the difference an inch can make.


For more info, contact:
Bob Lange, 
Head of Aircraft Interiors Marketing, Airbus