4 Reasons Why Airlines Are Removing Reclining Seats

by SharonKurheg

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.

Feature Photo: Marco Verch Professional … / flickr / CC BY 2.0

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Joey February 24, 2023 - 1:01 pm

Everything is about profit. Hotel check out are now its being adjusted to 11am.Check Ins too are 3 or 4 PM (Most of them increased their rates for less hours stay. Their reason is because of the time to prepare the room? (Which is baloney). The next time we fly, dont be surprised if the airline company will tell you to just sit on a plastic bench or bring your own lightweight foldable chair -which they will find a way to sell that to you, too. They will eventually get your money somewhere. Add to that the added stressof dealing with rude airport (sometimes less educated) security people, who thinks that they are all above everyone else. No wonder, people are dreading air travel and avoiding it altogether.

B Browne March 7, 2023 - 1:22 pm

I am an 86 yr old lady. Do not travel often. Flew from CA to Seattle to attend grandson’s marriage celebration. Seat would not recline. I have osteoarthritis and had a backache 2-1’2 hours later. Flew back 4 days later. Had same seat. Had to have wheelchair to get off plane. Still suffering from that seat. This was Alaska.


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