Aircraft interiors suppliers continually tout the alleged improvements in passenger comfort offered by their new economy class seats, which are designed to create more personal space for travellers. As the “slimline” seats become more prevalent, questions are arising over the relevance seat pitch plays as a measure of comfort.
For a majority of passengers seat pitch generates an almost emotional response as the distance between seats equates to a certain expected comfort level on their respective journeys.
But Emirates senior vice president of service delivery Terry Daly says that personally he finds seat pitch becoming more meaningless as a measure of comfort. He says seats that featured pitches of 34in-35in 15 years ago actually offered less personal space than present model economy seats, though, judging by the comments on certain airline forums, some passengers disagree.
Joking that his longer legs can be both a blessing and a curse Daly remarks that he sits more comfortably in the current-design economy seating “in a way I couldn’t do a few years ago”.
The seat pitch on Emirates’ widebody fleet varies by aircraft type. On its 777 widebodies that include -200s/200LRs/300s/300ERs, pitch is about 33in-34in. The carrier’s Airbus fleet has a range of 31in-33in pitch.
All the major manufacturers – B/E Aerospace, Recaro and Zodiac’s Weber – offer their respective versions of slimline seats that they profess either preserve or create more personal space for the passenger. Daly says that even as other areas of the onboard experience such as food and in-flight entertainment garner a lot of attention, the materials used in structures such as seating are “just as important to customer comfort”.
But the introduction of slimline seats has not been seamless. Lufthansa recently acknowledged that it encountered problems with fabric on the backbone of the Recaro BL3250 seat wore out faster than expected, which resulted in Recaro performing a change-out of the material. Lufthansa says since the exchange it has not experienced any problems with the seats.
Daly believes that lighter weight and space continue to be the Holy Grail in economy seating as personal space continues to play a critical role in the passenger experience. While a heavy level of attention is placed on product innovation for premium passengers, Daly stresses that the economy product offering “is just as important as the other cabins”.
As a passenger, do you agree with Daly’s comments?