A while back, we wrote a piece about why more and more hotels are no longer offering dressers in the guests’ rooms. You may have noticed that the basic reason is similar to why fewer hotels leave bibles in their rooms anymore.
Hotels aren’t the only ones in the travel industry making changes; airlines are, too. If you’ve flown for long enough, you’ve experienced many of them:
- You get little to no food
- Prices are through the roof
- Seats are getting smaller
- You may have to pay for individual things that used to be free, like checking a bag, choosing your seat, bringing on a carry on, etc.
And, more recently, you may notice that fewer planes offer reclining seats.
Of course, if you have a business or first-class seat, chances are you still have the ability to recline, or even lie flat or almost flat. But that may not be the case for the rest of us. Here are some reasons why:
It makes the plane lighter
We’ve gone over the crazy ways airlines try to reduce weight on planes. Less weight means less fuel consumption (just like how a super heavy Hummer uses more fuel [14mpg] than a lightweight Mitsubishi Mirage [39mpg]). Less fuel consumption means less money spent and less impact on the environment.
All the mechanisms that allow a seat to recline increases the plane’s weight. The Association of Flight Attendants recently reported that modern-day seats only weigh between 15 and 22 pounds, once you remove the recline mechanism.
It makes for less maintenance
When you have mechanics that move, something is going to break. It could be because of wear and tear, or it may be due to passenger abuse. But every time a seat needs to be repaired, it costs the airline time and money.
It keeps the peace
This is the aspect that probably affects passengers the most. If a seat doesn’t recline, passengers can’t argue about who’s reclining, and it avoids situations like this guy had to go through.
They’ve invented pre-reclined seats
People who design planes are constantly working to improve things. Newer seat designs include options where the backrest is already slanted backward. Their slope specifically conforms to the body ergonomically, which can compensate for some comfort issues from a fixed back. These “pre-reclined” seats are usually found in short-haul flights on low-cost carriers, but they’re gaining popularity on other airlines.
For now, it’s mainly the low-cost and ultra low cost carriers using seats that don’t recline. However other airlines are also looking at these features, especially for their economy class seats (British Airways, for example, introduced non-reclining economy seats in some of their planes in 2019).
So the next time you fly in economy class, who knows…depending on circumstances, you may find yourself in a non-reclining seat.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary