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Redesigned Seats Let Airlines Squeeze In More Passengers 466

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "AP reports that U.S. airlines are taking out old, bulky seats in favor of so-called slimline models that take up less space from front to back, allowing for five or six more seats on each plane. This gives airlines two of their favorite things: more paying passengers, and a smaller fuel bill (the seats are slightly lighter). Whether the new seats are really closer together depends on how you measure. By the usual measure, called 'pitch,' the new ones are generally an inch closer together from front to back as measured at the armrest. The seats Southwest has put on nearly its entire fleet are 31 inches apart, about an inch less than before, allowing them to to add an extra row of six seats to each plane. International passengers are feeling crowded, too. As recently as 2010, most airlines buying Boeing's big 777 opted for nine seats across. Now it's 10 across on 70 percent of newly-built 777s, Boeing says. American's newest 777s are set up 10-across in coach, with slightly narrower seats than on its older 777s. Airlines say you won't notice. And the new seats are designed to minimize this problem. Airplane seats from 30 years ago looked like your grandmother's BarcaLounger, says Jami Counter, senior director at, which tracks airline seats and amenities. 'All that foam cushion and padding probably didn't add all that much comfort. All that's been taken out,' he said. 'You haven't really lost all that much if the airline does it right.'"

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