RECLINING plane seats could be a thing of the past, as airlines attempt to squeeze more profit out of their already cramped cabins.
According to the New York Times, US carriers Spirit and Southwest are leading a new push to stuff even more seats on planes, redesigning cabins to make the most out of every inch of space.
Sprit now gives economy passengers the least amount of room, the Times said, squeezing passengers into an industry-low of 28 inches and stripping travellers of the ability to move their seats back themselves.
These so-called “prereclined” seats, set permanently to lean three inches back, help Sprit cram 178 economy passengers into Airbus A320s that typically accommodate 150.
The airline, of course, spins the news as being a win for passengers.
“Customers appreciate the fact that there is no longer interference from the seat in front of you moving up and down throughout the flight,” Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson told the Times.
While Southwest still allows passengers to recline, the airline has restricted seat movement from three inches to two.
It’s also installing seats with less cushion and thinner materials, allowing another row, or six seats, on every flight – worth an estimated $US200 million ($224.4 million) in annual revenue.
The Times notes that heavier passengers aren’t helping either.
In the last four decades, the average American waistline has bulged about 2.5 inches, while width of an airline seat has remained at 17 to 18 inches.