United Airlines adds capacity with thinner seats

Airlines are always coming up with creative ways to cut costs and boost profits. Here’s a good one: United has announced plans to install thinner seats on some of its planes next year, allowing more passengers to travel on every flight.

United Airlines installing thinner seats
Photo courtesy of e-cloudy.com

The new seats are designed and manufactured by Recaro, a high-end German company that also makes racing car seats. The new Recaro seating will be introduced on United’s narrow-body Airbus planes, which are mostly used for short-haul domestic flights.

The secret to extra capacity is in the seat padding. The new cushions are thin enough that the plane can accommodate an extra row of seats, without reducing anyone’s legroom. Lightweight aluminum seat frames compensate for the added passenger weight.

The new seats will allow an additional six passengers on each plane.

It all sounds pretty clever, and the competition is taking notice. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines have both announced their own plans to increase capacity with some creative seating arrangements.

But it was actually Spirit Airlines that pioneered the thin seat concept. In 2010, the ultra-budget carrier starting installing new seats were not only thinner, but also non-adjustable. By denying passengers the ability to recline, Spirit was able to cram even more of them onto each flight.

What’s your take on thinner seats? Is it really possible to fit more passengers on-board without reducing comfort levels? Share your thoughts!



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