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Wider plane seats help sleep

Relief could be on the way for passengers crammed into narrow seats on planes.


Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is calling on the aviation industry to set a minimum seat width of 18 inch (46cm) for long-haul aircraft.

The call comes after London-based research showed that sleep quality can improve substantially if seats are a little wider.

Airbus, whose planes’ wings are made in the UK, already has a 46cm minimum width in its long-haul economy cabins, with business and first-class passengers having wider seats.

“However, other manufacturers are eroding passenger comfort standards by going back to narrower seat widths from the 1950s in order to remain competitive,” the company says.”

Airbus released details of research conducted by Harley Street medical practice The London Sleep Centre.

Tests were done on a selection of passengers. These included monitoring brainwaves, eye, abdominal, chest, hip and leg movement.

The tests revealed that a minimum seat width of 46cm improved passenger sleep quality by 53 per cent when compared to the 1950s-style 17 inch (43cm) standard.

Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, of The London Sleep Centre, said: “The difference was significant. All passengers experienced a deeper, less disturbed and longer night’s sleep in the 18-inch seat.”

Kevin Keniston, Airbus’ head of passenger comfort, said: “If the aviation industry doesn’t take a stand right now then we risk jeopardising passenger comfort into 2045 and beyond – especially if you take into account aircraft delivery timetables combined with expected years in service. Which means another generation of passengers will be consigned to seats which are based on outdated standards.”

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