Kevin Keniston, Airbus' Head of Passenger Comfort, comments: "If the aviation industry doesn't take a stand right now then we risk jeopardising passenger comfort into 2045 and beyond - especially if you take into account aircraft delivery timetables combined with expected years in service. Which means another generation of passengers will be consigned to seats which are based on outdated standards."
Airbus has always maintained a standard of 18 inch (45.72cm) minimum in its long haul economy cabins. However, other manufacturers are eroding passenger comfort standards by going back to narrower seat widths from the 1950s in order to remain competitive. Changing Body Mass Index (BMI) and perspectives on personal space have encouraged other industries, such as leisure and automotive, to re-think seat width. And recent research conducted into long haul economy passengers across international airports revealed that seat comfort is now the most important criteria when booking a long distance flight in economy, even over the schedule of the flight.
Kevin Keniston adds: "Our research reveals that 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. Thankfully passengers these days have a choice and they are choosing to put comfort first. We are encouraging them to be aware of the difference an inch makes in long haul economy."
For more information on Future by Airbus go to http://www.airbus.com #AirbusComfortMore on the research *The full polysomnography recorded every standard physiological sleep measurement on a selection of passengers, including brainwaves, eye, abdominal, chest and hip leg movement. The study design followed established principles of clinical study - this was a cross-over study to assess the impact on sleep variables by two different seat sizes - 17 and 18 inches in a small sample of six healthy adults who had been previously screened for the presence of medical and sleep disorders. The cabin environment was structured to simulate as close as possible the true flight environment from the start including lighting to replicate sunset and sunrise, aircraft take-off and background sounds, in-flight entertainment and catering. ( October 2013) All participants in the study were of average BMI with no record of health or sleep issues and were kept blind to the purpose of the study. Each completed a series of nights sleep in flight simulations re-creating long haul economy passenger experience, all variables were kept constant apart from the width of the seat which changed between 17 and 18 inches.