Passengers Squeeze into Slimmer Airline Seats

Several airlines have been touting new “slim-line” seats and there are a couple of things you should know about them: The seats are lighter so airlines save on fuel but the thinner design also allows airlines to cram more of them in planes. And therein lies the problem.

Got a complaint about your seat?

Survey: Thumbs Down on Comfort

According to media reports about a new survey from TripAdvisor, those who tried the slim-line seats* didn’t much care for them.

  • Less comfortable than traditional seats: 83%
  • More comfortable than traditional seats: 8%
  • Felt the same: 9%

*Interestingly, about half of the total number surveyed weren’t sure if they sat in slim-line seats or not, which might mean they’re more comfortable than given credit for. Maybe.

An Airline Responds

According to the Los Angeles Times, Delta says there’s a problem with the survey because it did not ask passengers which airlines they flew and slim-line seats vary by carrier. Apparently they vary by comfort, too, and Delta points to an internal survey which indicates its passengers like the Delta version.

What’s a seat pitch – and why you should know about it

What Passengers Say

The Times quotes a tweet from Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “Are you as frustrated as I am that the airlines keep moving the rows of seats closer and closer together?” and the answer, according to the paper’s commenters is yes. One suggests self-medicating with “Smirnoff” (which can be a very bad idea since overindulging in alcohol is an easy way to get kicked off a plane).

The No-Seat Solution

Another commenter asks where it will end – perhaps with “stand up flying”? Believe it or not, this idea has been floated by the CEO of European discounter Ryanair who suggested properly-priced standing seats would be very popular. “[A] standing cabin would be one euro, the sitting cabin would be 25 euros,” said O’Leary. “I guarantee you, the one-euro cabin will fill first.” By the way, this suggestion was put forth more than two years ago but no airline has done it yet.

Passenger Resources

Concerned about your seat? If you can’t find the information at your airline’s website (go to your reservation where there is often a flight details icon you can click), check out SeatGuru which has information on all types of plane used on all routes and the number and type of seats. We’d love to hear what you thought of the last airline seat you occupied.


Published: January 20, 2014