Monday, October 31, 2016

Curse of the Travel Gods: Slim Seats

(image: nydailynews)
I've only experienced two kinds of slim seats that are invading coach cabins: The kind that Hawaiian Airline uses on their Boeing 717 jets which are only used to travel between the Hawaiian Islands and on American Airlines narrow body jets, mainly their Airbus A321.

On the short island hopper flights these seats are not bad at all. But I do find that with the arm rests down between seats those that have the middle or aisle seats sometimes find it challenge to slide into and out of their respective seats.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717 Slimline Seats (image: Hawaiian Airlines)
Hawaiian Airlines does shy away from other real reasons why the seats are designed this way especially when the back of the seat is all metal:
“These new, modern design elements rejuvenate the interiors of our Boeing 717s while allowing us to deliver a consistent onboard experience for our guests,” said Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer for Hawaiian Airlines. “The new lightweight seats are engineered to ensure a maximum amount of personal space without compromising legroom or comfort.” (from

American Airlines Airbus A321 coach seats (image: American Airlines)
On the American Airlines Airbus A321, the seats aren't as thin as on Hawaiian but that's because the seat backs include a personal in-seat entertainment system. Both on Hawaiian and American the main reason for these seats are so the jets can carry more passengers by adding an extra row. The two airlines claim that seat pitch is not lost because of the thinner seat design.

Since I fly American to the U.S. mainland, the flights are at least five hours to the west coast so I always be sure to book early to snag a Main Cabin Extra seat which is located in the front of the coach cabin and has extra legroom or even better find a seat in an exit-row.

One thing that these seats on both airlines have in common is the mesh pocket for the in-flight magazine and air sickness bag. They are so tight a fit that you really can't use them for anything else. I guess that's a good thing to keep these pockets cleaner but I do see other passengers forcing items into them. One flyer managed to fit his Starbucks coffee cup only to see it be squeezed out of the basket and the remains of his coffee dripping all over his lap.

One chap recently recounts his horror of being stuck in these seats which he calls a thin piece of form on a Virgin Atlantic but his seat had a catch that the other seats didn't. Click on the article's headline below to read the full story.

How This Famous Airline Gave Me a Piece of Foam Instead of a Seat on a So-Called Dreamliner.


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