Over the years, as our time sitting in front of computers at home and at work has increased, so, too, have some of our waistlines. And, in many cases, those expanding waistlines have translated into less comfort on economy class airplane flights. Now,Airbus has announced a new seating option specifically designed to address the rise in passengers sporting a little extra girth.
The company's A320 line aircrafts will offer an extra-wide, 20-inch width seating option (the window and middle seat would shrink from a width of 18-inches to 17-inches) that could alleviate some of the discomfort larger passengers experience on long flights. According to a report in Flight Global, Airbus representative Stefanie Von Linstow, who admitted that the subject is "a difficult topic to handle for the airlines," said the decision to increase the width of the seat was due in part to a "growing population."
Although uncomfortable for some to discuss, this issue hit the national spotlight a few years ago when super geek Kevin Smith was reportedly removed from a Southwest Airlines flight because he was too large to fit into a single seat. The matter was ultimately resolved, but the incident raised the notion that current airplane seats might be outdated in relation to the increasing size of the U.S. population.
To be fair, even relatively thin passengers who are taller than average can also have trouble flying long durations in economy class seats, due to the lack of legroom allocated to those seats. So while the increase in width won't address that other concern, this small accommodation for wider passengers does offer some hope. Along with constant "innovations" (read: increases) in airline ticket prices, perhaps there will come a day when economy class airplane seats are actually comfortable for all.