Short passengers not so much

By Erika Owen
August 07, 2015
B/E Aerospace

A new airplane seat design from B/E Aerospace utilizes a gear system that allows flyers to adjust their seat for a flight that could actually be described as comfortable. For tall passengers, this could be game-changing: No more bruised knees from knocking against the seat in front of you. The proposed design doesn't add any bulk to what we currently see in airplane cabins. The idea is that the fluidity of the seats will match with the reality of the human body: people come in all shapes and sizes, why shouldn't airline seating options? Here's how it works: The seats feature various gears that are controlled by an app for hand-held devices. Ideally, each passenger would be able to move their seat back and forth, the end result being a cabin full of comfortable travelers. (Put this in the hands of the wrong child, and you could have a very long flight ahead of you.)

B/E Aerospace

But what does this mean for shorter flyers? Passengers sitting behind a taller customer would have easier access to their tray tables. To make this really work, it seems that there might have to be a pre-take-off chat among passengers—I mean, who really wants to give up extra room in an already cramped space? In theory, it all sounds great, but get too many tall passengers in one row or section and there could be trouble for anyone stuck in between a taller and shorter flyer—especially when there's assigned seating. Just think: If a design like this materializes, we may be seeing a height box to fill out when buying a ticket someday soon.

Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.