Because regular economy is just way too roomy.
Think airplanes couldn’t get any more crowded? Not so. Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is managing to squeeze another seat into every row. Meet the new “budget-economy” class, where the seats are somehow even more cramped than what travelers are used to now.
At the recent Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015, the manufacturer unveiled plans to outfit the economy section of its A380 jumbo jets with 11-seat rows. Previously, Airbus had said the width of chairs in this new section would be smaller, but the company managed to keep all seats 18 inches across by rearranging the cabin. However, that metric might not mean much, as illustrated by aviation reporter John Walton, who took the new seats for a test drive:
We still have a few good years left—this seat configuration won’t become available to travelers until 2017.
In contrast, Southwest is giving customers a little more elbow room. Next year, the airline will be upgrading its planes with wider seats, the widest, they claim, of any economy class on Boeing 737s. Better yet, Southwest COO Mike Van de Ven also said that the seats are also lighter than previous models, to help improve fuel efficiency.
Caroline Hallemann is an assistant digital editor at Travel + Leisure. You can find her on Twitter at @challemann.