Why Boeing and Airbus are fighting over seat sizes
Should they be 17 inches or 18 inches wide? The companies are squabbling over the right number as the Dubai Air Show kicks off, and experts say an inch does make a difference.
By Kiran Moodley, CNBC
In the seemingly never-ending rivalry between Boeing (BA) and Airbus, no stone is left unturned -- and that includes the upholstery.
Not content with the battle between their respective aircraft, most notably the Dreamliner versus A350, the American and European manufacturers have argued over the size of economy seats on their aircraft ahead of the Dubai Air Show, which runs this week.
Airbus is arguing that the air transport sector needs to adopt a standard seat-width size of 18 inches for long-haul aircraft. Boeing said that such a seat size request was "arbitrary."
This is not a mere sideshow in the Airbus-Boeing battle, but a real fight for customers.
Lots of airlines request that Boeing use 17-inch seats in its 777-300ER aircraft, as this means the economy section can seat 10 chairs across, and more paying customers per plane is a definite plus for airlines. Airbus uses nine-abreast on the A350 and eight-abreast on the A330.
The U.K.'s London Sleep Center, in conjunction with Airbus, recorded the sleep measurements of six healthy adults in both 17- and 18-inch seats. This involved monitoring brainwaves, eye, abdominal, chest and hip leg movement. The conclusion was that "a minimum seat width of 18 inches improved passenger sleep quality by 53 percent when compared to the 1950s 17-inch standard.
Kevin Keniston, Airbus' Head of Passenger Comfort, said following the research, "Not only does seat width make a dramatic impact on passenger comfort but there is now a growing cohort of discerning economy passengers who are not prepared to accept long haul 17-inch crusher seats and instead will choose airlines that offer better seat comfort, often turning to social media or specialist websites to determine true seat value."
Seat width is an increasingly hot topic when it comes to long-haul air travel given the changing shape of the average flyer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7 percent) are obese, and there has been a dramatic increase in obesity across the world in the last 30 years.
While the argument between Boeing and Airbus revolves around seat width, many commentators argue that seat pitch (legroom) is a more important determining factor when it comes to passenger comfort.
The AP reported that U.S. airlines such as Southwest (LUV), Alaska Airlines (LCC) and United Airlines (UAL) had all introduced new seas that place the magazine pocket above the tray table, away from the passenger's knees, and they use lighter-weight frames and padding that allow for more seats across the width of the plane.
This development began in 2010 when Lufthansa began using Recaro seats on its aircraft, notably the Basic Line 3520 seat, which used lighter material to reduce the weight of each seat to less than 11 kilograms, which was around 30 percent lighter than previous chair models. Thus, the BL3520's minimal weight allows airlines to lower costs by reducing fuel consumption. It also allows for more passengers on the plane, not width-wise, but length-wise.
More from CNBC
Just stand the passengers upright and stuff them in like sardines
Provide holes in the floor for toilets and you can do away with the aisles adding what like three times 100 or 200 more passengers per plane.
Heck just lay the passengers on top of each other probably get 4 times as many in the plane.
besides this article does not mention the fact that with first class going to huge seats that folder flat for sleeping that extra space needs to be made up by sardining the economy passengers.
Heck you don't have to worry about fuel economy when you sell $3,000 a seat tickets to the first class people.
I say forget about trying to get 20 people in economy at $300 a seat --
upgrade first class with a jacuzzi and bed (companion extra??) as well as a seat and charge $50,000 a spot. That is the way to make money. After all the people who travel first class hire minimum wagers so they can get $250,000 profit out of each minimum wager. The airlines hitting them up for $50,000 a ticket seems cheap.
Who do they think they are kidding??
This is NOT about the passenger's comfort, it is about adding an additional seat per row and the additional revenue that extra seat will generate.
They can talk about passenger comfort until they are blue in the face, but it still boils down to the bottom line....
Mo' money - Mo' money - Mo' money, honey
is all that matters to them.
Once you have your ticket they could care less about your comfort ON ANY LEVEL..........
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