Airline Seats Shrink While Americans Get Wider: New ‘Morph’ Technology Fixes This Issue

November 18, 2013  |  

Nowadays, you might find yourself fidgeting for comfort on airline seats. Airline seats are becoming narrower while Americans, according to CNN, are getting wider. Luckily, a new British technology called “Morph” can fix the problem of the ever-shrinking airline seat, The LA Times reports.

In the 1990s, airline seats offered a comfortable 18.5 inches of width for airline passengers. In that decade, the average American woman weighed 156 pounds while men weighed 186 pounds. Today, passengers are squeezing into tiny 16.5 inch seats while the average American woman and man weighs 166 and 196 pounds, respectively. Yikes!

There are a few reasons behind the shrinking seats in economy class. Air carriers are pushing to expand higher-fare sections by adding more flatbed business seats. However, accommodating more higher-paying passengers also means decreased space in economy class. “But airlines don’t want to drop passengers. So… airlines slimmed seats to add more rows,” the Wall Street Journal adds

In short, seats are shrinking due to air carriers upgrading first class and, at the same time, trying to squeeze more revenue out of coach.

“Airlines used to fly at 70% capacity. Now, that number is closer to 80 to 85%, which means every middle seat is occupied, so the elbow room just isn’t there,” said Ranga Natarajan, the senior product manager at SeatGuru.

But there is hope! A new British team has come up with a way to fix this shrinking issue — a way that is in tune with the airline’s business model and a passenger’s satisfaction. Morph, designed by Seymourpowell, can laterally change the width of a three-seat row by the push of button. Better explained in video than with words, there is a demonstration provided on YouTube.

This is great for passengers as they can select the width that’s most comfortable for them. For instance, a mother and father can select a medium-width seat while they choose a small-width seat for their pre-teen child. Morph works in favor for air carriers, too, as they can charge extra for wider economy-class seats.

For now, unfortunately, you’ll have to endure the tight fit in economy or upgrade to first class. Morph is just a concept a concept Seymour Powell hopes air carriers will buy into.

“We wanted to show that it doesn’t all need to be about ramming in more and more people into the economy class,” said Eric Smith, a spokeswoman for the company. “Rather, we can make it about choice and develop architecture that blurs the boundaries between classes on a seat-by-seat basis.”

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