Why Reclining Seats are Vanishing from Airplanes

Traveling can be incredibly stressful, and everyone deserves comfort while flying. Unfortunately, airplanes are designed to fit as many passengers as possible, which to some extent, disregards their comfort. There’s nothing worse than a long day of travel and having to switch airplanes. Then having the person in front of you recline their seats back, impeding on your personal space. 

Advertisement

Lacking Personal Space

Airplanes referred to as “hybrid cabins” are designed with three classes of seats. There’s first class, business, then economy. It’s no secret that flying economy is the least luxurious of the options. There are far more passengers and seats have less leg room.

Advertisement

Seat fabric may change from section to section. Furthermore, the headrest will go from movable to stationary. Couple that with airplanes reclining seats mechanism and each passenger loses around an inch of, already, limited space. Fortunately, airlines are working on a way to fix the spatial problems. As a result, airplanes will no longer have that feature. However, passenger comfort isn’t the only reason for this change to airplanes.

Advertisement

Airplanes Save Money

Simply put, airplanes without reclining seats are more cost effective. Over time, their mechanisms become worn or broken requiring a costly repair. Moreover, doing away with reclining mechanisms saves on fuel costs. The new seat design is more lightweight and by default will use less fuel.

Advertisement

In 2009, engineers created a lightweight “pre-reclined” seat at a fixed angle. The seat was ergonomically designed with a “bucket” shape, for taller passengers to place a knee on each side. In turn, the airplanes’ passengers may gain some leg space. When first released, these seats were marketed to low-cost carriers. However, since they first hit the market, companies have been innovating other ways to create a little more space.

Advertisement

World Renowned Engineering

Recaro, a company renowned for safety, creates race car and booster seats for kids. They’ve created economy class “pre-reclined” seats for short flights and seats with a tilting seat pan for longer flights. Recaro’s current CEO is Mark Hiller. He explained, “The airline can choose a pre-defined backrest angle position of 15 or 18 degrees within the seat configuration process. This helps to provide either more comfort via increased backrest angle or fulfil special layouts with specific passenger counts.

He continued, “The main advantage is increased living space, as a passenger’s living space is not intruded by recline. In addition, the low total cost of ownership — fewer moveable parts on the seat, improved reliability and simplified maintenance — and low weight and cost, with no mechanism, kinematics and so on required.”

In 1914, the first commercial flight took to the sky. Since then, airplanes have changed significantly. They now have features like a USB port, Wi-Fi, and inflight entertainment. Furthermore. airlines are constantly coming up with new and competitive ways to appeal to passengers. Creating seats without the reclining mechanisms allows for more leg room, less claustrophobia concerns, and more cost-effective airplanes. Companies can save money while still providing a level of customer satisfaction and comfort.

Advertisement

Sources

  1. Why reclining seats are vanishing from airplanes.” CNN. John Walton. January 9, 2023.
Advertisement