Monday, March 31, 2008

Air Sick Lesson 4 Part 2 / The Airline Seat

Let’s begin with looking at the architecture of the airline seat. The airline seat was designed by highly trained professionals who were laid off once torture was banned in most parts of the world and they needed a job for their particular skill set. Many people spent many hours brainstorming the dimentions and physics of the airline seat. They had high level meetings, drew sketches, employed state of the art software and poured millions of man-hours into the final design before realizing they didn’t take into consideration the average human is not 4’2” tall and weigh 72 pounds. Realizing that starting over again would cost too much time and money they went out, got drunk, laughed their ass off and decided “screw em, we keeping it”.


The garden variety airline seat in economy class has a pitch of 31” (the amount the seat will recline and consequently ram the serving tray into the large intestines of person behind you) and is 17” wide. Let’s examine things that are more then 17” wide… I guess we could start with YOU…..you, at least 65% of you in the world are wider then 17”. The drivers seat in your car is very comfortable isn’t it…that’s 21”, you are very comfortable sitting on your sofa right, 22”, how about your recliner 22”, your dining room chair, 20”, the chair in your office or cubicle 21” to 24” I guess depending on your position. The fact of the matter is the majority of seats in the world can accommodate most human dimensions comfortably.


Forget for a second the 17” of width you have, those airline engineers who are in desperate need of anger management dreamed up another factor to consider. Do you know what the difference is between the driver’s seat of your car, your sofa, your recliner, your dining room or office chair and an airline seat? No one is sitting next to you in any of these and they also only have 17”.


Another thing about your seat space, 17” is for those of you traveling on a full size plane, amazingly they get smaller. As more airlines have switched to smaller regional jets, if you are unlucky enough to be booked on what I affectionately refer to as a crop duster, the planes normally used to serve smaller airports or shorter routes, your seat shrinks to 16”.

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