European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is to offer extra-wide seats to cater for super-sized passengers in an effort to match “trends in demographics.”
Airbus unveiled its new plans to serve the expanding requirements of larger travellers at Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors Expo this week. The plane-maker will offer airlines 20in aisle seats on Airbus A320 aircraft. They will be 2in wider than standard seats.
It follows a similar move introduced by Samoa Air, which recently launched the world’s first pay-by-weight tariff in response to Polynesia’s acute obesity crisis.
Airlines using Airbus’s A320 will benefit by being able to charge more for the wider seats. But the two-thirds of the aircraft’s passengers who opt for centre and window seats will lose out, as their seats will forfeit an inch of width each to generate the extra space.
“Window-seat passengers are already happy and those in the centre seat might not be willing to pay as much for the extra width. The aisle seat seemed the most attractive for the concept,” explained Airbus interiors marketing spokeswoman Stefanie von Linstow.
Airbus floated the idea of catering for the needs of those occasionally described as “McPassengers” in 2012. But not everyone liked the idea: an opinion poll conducted in the UK by Skyscanner found that 80 per cent of flyers were against losing an inch of seat width to accommodate a portly neighbour.
Samoa Air’s revolutionary “fat tax” system, announced earlier this year, was an attempt to cope with a severe obesity problem. Almost 75 per cent of Samoans are obese. The airline insisted that the system was fair because it tackled the problem of weight and fuel cost faced by all airlines and also specifically addressed the obesity crisis.