Airlines use illusion to make coach seem more spacious

Sam Harnett Dec 26, 2014
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Airlines use illusion to make coach seem more spacious

Sam Harnett Dec 26, 2014
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Like most of us, you have probably flown coach recently. Did it seem spacious to you? Probably not. Airlines are hoping to change that—not with bigger seats, but by creating the impression of more room with larger video screens and new headrests.

Joe Brancatelli runs JoeSentMe, a website for business travelers. He says the illusion is just that: an illusion. Coach seats have gotten smaller he says and they continue to get smaller.

The whole shrinking airplane seat situation makes Joe Brancatelli thinks of a Marx Brothers’ joke. It’s the one where Groucho calls up room service and asks them to send up more room. Instead, they send up more people to his tiny space.

Brancatelli says airplane perks like larger video screens are distractions from slimmer seats which are now seven inches less than an average desk chair. Meanwhile, he says first class keeps getting nicer.

The difference in comfort between first class and coach is growing Brancatelli says. “It really is a yawning gap culturally,” he says, “and people are beginning to seize on this and say it’s like what is going on in society.”

Chris Lopinto has noticed the increasing difference between the two airplane classes. Lopinto is co-founder of ExpertFlyer.com. He points to how American Airlines is concentrating more on first class as it upgrades its fleet. Lopinto says, “That’s the way it is because that’s where a lot of the revenue comes from.”

Lopinto says in American Airlines’ new planes, economy fliers will get some upgrades like more personal video screens, power outlets, and pay-as-you-go wifi.

 As for the seats, he says if anything they are going to get a tad smaller.

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