Airline Seats Spacing Down by 4 inches

The occasional traveller might not notice the change, but frequent jetpackers know the difference 4 inches can make when it comes to airline seat spacing.

As more airlines crack their heads thinking of cost-cutting techniques, one relatively simple solution has been to reduce the spacing between passenger seats. So much so that in recent years, up to 4 inches of precious airline seat spacing has been sneakily taken away.

Image credit: Suhyeon Choi

If you’ve been flying over the past 20 years, you’ll notice the seat in front of you creeping closer and closer to your knees – and that’s an accurate observation. The distance between seats is called the pitch, and airlines have been slowly reducing the size of the pitch to accommodate more seats. This leaves individual passengers with less room, even though you pay the same price, naturally. The minimum pitch size was 31″/ 32″ but has now gone down to 30″.

What’s more unfortunate is that it’s not the only reduction that affects passengers’ comfort levels. Seat widths are also made slimmer, with each airline cutting up to 2 inches per seat. Some airlines even fill the Airbus A330 with 16.7″ seats. To give you a rough comparison, the average first class seat is about 21 inches wide.

airline seats

Image credit: Erwan Hesry

Business Insider reports that a small study examined sleep quality in 17″ versus 18″ wide seats. Two thirds of the passengers who snoozed in the 18″ space reported better quality sleep. They also fell asleep faster and twitched less in the seats that had one extra inch of space. So if your priority is to get some good shut-eye on board, you might want to consider spending the extra cash for a seat upgrade.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Watch their illustrated video on the reduction of airline seat spacing here