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Are aircraft Y seats really shrinking ?

Are aircraft Y seats really shrinking ?

Old Oct 10, 16, 11:51 am
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Are aircraft Y seats really shrinking ?

This article writes about seats getting narrower.
Is this really the case ?

My experience is not that bad. For my almost 2 meters height I can live with 32" seat pitch. And in the past (1980s and 90s, also long hauls), 29" was more common and seats were more cramped, but flights were less fully booked, so sometimes I could use 2 seats.

Latest years I flew EK, KL, SQ and MH (all long haul) and leaving KL behind the other three.

I always check seatguru.com for seat pitch. EK even differs between the 777 and 380, the latter having slightly more legroom and seat width.

I have heard (no own experience) that the 787s of QR are awful, much worse than their 777s.

Is this article really right ?
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Old Oct 10, 16, 12:15 pm
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More airlines are following the budget airline theory.
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Old Oct 10, 16, 12:16 pm
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I don't recall 29" seat pitch ever being 'common' - certainly not on non-LCC carriers.


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Old Oct 10, 16, 12:25 pm
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31" & 32" pitch was common. Not 29" in my experience.
The thickness of the seat backs has reduced in recent years.
Narrower refers to width.

Seat pitch is a poor measurement to determine space. The distance from the seat back to the back of the seat ahead at knee height is a more accurate & useful measure.
Seat width is also sometimes given and another poor measurement. Seat to the adjoining seat pitch is better as it gives a more accurate measure of shoulder to shoulder space.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airline_seat

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Nov 11, 16 at 11:24 pm Reason: added wikipedia airline seat link
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Old Oct 11, 16, 1:53 am
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Originally Posted by airsurfer View Post
My experience is not that bad. For my almost 2 meters height I can live with 32" seat pitch. And in the past (1980s and 90s, also long hauls), 29" was more common and seats were more cramped, but flights were less fully booked, so sometimes I could use 2 seats.

I always check seatguru.com for seat pitch. EK even differs between the 777 and 380, the latter having slightly more legroom and seat width.
What airline(s) do you think had 29" seat pitch in the 80s and 90s?
Perhaps you are confusing seat pitch with leg room. 29" seat pitch has only been made possible more recently with slimline seats, and mainly on LCCs.

Also note seatguru.com is often inaccurate for seat pitch, and that seat pitch is not equivalent to leg room.
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Old Oct 11, 16, 2:15 am
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It's the width that makes it particularly bad - there are more and more 17" wide seats appearing on long-haul aircraft (the same as an A320) where they were as much as 18.5" previously.
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Old Oct 11, 16, 5:05 am
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Originally Posted by airsurfer View Post
This article writes about seats getting narrower.
Is this really the case ?
[...]
Is this article really right ?
Absolutely. Many carriers are reconfiguring their 777s to 3-4-3 (10-abreast) seating where 3-3-3 (9-abreast) was the norm, and the 787 was designed to be outfitted 2-4-2 (8-abreast) but most carriers are choosing to put 3-3-3 in them.

Given that the airframe doesn't stretch that extra space has only two places to come out of: the seats and the aisles. And since you can't squeeze the aisles beyond a certain point, the seats have to necessarily shrink too.

All of this because we want slightly lower fares.
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Old Oct 11, 16, 6:02 am
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With very few exceptions (such as JL's introduction of its Skywider Y seating on some routes - which I was quite happy with on a recent trip), the trend is towards narrower seats and reduced legroom as the airlines cram us in tighter.

I'm only 5'8" tall and average build, but the narrower width is annoying, I imagine even more so for anyone with a wider frame. I can get by with less legroom (within reason) - though I'd obviously prefer more - but the width can be quite bothersome when you're literally rubbing elbows with your neighbor. When I travel with my wife it helps slightly since we can obviously stand to be touching, but on a long-haul flight even the happiest couple needs some personal space!

Packing more seats across also makes the aisles narrower which is another annoyance when getting up and about during flight. And altogether it just creates a less comfortable feeling psychologically.
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Old Oct 11, 16, 6:58 am
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Well, either they are getting narrower, or I'm getting wider!
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Old Oct 11, 16, 9:08 am
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Originally Posted by CyBeR View Post
Absolutely. Many carriers are reconfiguring their 777s to 3-4-3 (10-abreast) seating where 3-3-3 (9-abreast) was the norm, and the 787 was designed to be outfitted 2-4-2 (8-abreast) but most carriers are choosing to put 3-3-3 in them..
I am very disappointed in Boeing that they didn't offer a reasonable amount of resistance against that vandalisation of their product image.

For the 777, I don't book on 3-4-3 carriers but for the 787, I simply don't book flights that operate that plane type as there is a >80% chance that they come in the crippled configuration.
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Old Oct 11, 16, 9:14 am
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Yes, seats really are getting narrower. When the 777 was introduced it was 9-abreast. Today more flights and miles are flown by the 777 10-abreast than 9-abreast. So, yes, seats are getting narrower.

As for pitch, the seats are closer together now; more rows on any given plane. But the seats are also thinner so knee room might not be reduced, even with tighter pitch.

More seats on board also affects things like contention for overhead bin space. And higher load factors are also putting pressure on passenger comfort.

n.b. The link above is to my blog or to one which I am a regular contributor. FT rules require that I disclose that in the post.
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Old Oct 11, 16, 10:39 am
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Originally Posted by airsurfer View Post

My experience is not that bad. For my almost 2 meters height I can live with 32" seat pitch. And in the past (1980s and 90s, also long hauls), 29" was more common and seats were more cramped
What airlines did you fly during the 80s and 90s that had 29" pitch?
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Old Oct 11, 16, 2:23 pm
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The 3-4-3 layout in EK is not that bad as I experienced the past years on DXB-CPT, but the 380s are indeed slightly wider, despite it is also 3-4-3.

Originally Posted by moondog View Post
What airlines did you fly during the 80s and 90s that had 29" pitch?
SK (Scandinavian does not exist anymore, to NBO in D10, 1978)
LG (LUX-NBO-JNB, Luxavia a SA derivative allowed to fly over Africa, a 707 in 1984)
VS (LHR-JNB in 340, 1997)
BA (LHR-NBO in 744, 1993) but not sure
KL (still in 2010, KUL-AMS on a 772 was a codeshare of MH operated by KL) way less comfortable than AMS-KUL on MH17 (772).

Last edited by airsurfer; Oct 13, 16 at 12:44 pm Reason: was 2010 not 2012
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Old Oct 11, 16, 2:48 pm
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Old Oct 12, 16, 8:01 am
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Originally Posted by airsurfer View Post
The 3-4-3 layout in EK is not that bad as I experienced the past years on DXB-CPT, but the 380s are indeed slightly wider, despite it is also 3-4-3...
It's not exactly the same size aircraft ... same with the Nighmareliner which is terrible in 3-3-3 config.
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