The controversial Knee Defender blocks a passenger in front of you from reclining, but what do you do when your shoulders are getting squeezed on an airplane?
That’s the big question as airplane manufacturers continue to shrink seats to let airlines stuff more passengers into economy sections. The latest maker to apply this cost-cutting measure is Airbus, which unveiled a new 11 seat-per-row reconfiguration for its A380 superjumbo jet this week in Hamburg, Germany.
The Airbus A380 currently seats 10 passengers per row in economy (3-4-3), but the new configuration bumps the middle section up by one (3-5-3):
The double-decker’s new seats, which will arrive in 2017, are technically still the same width as before — 18 in. (46 cm.) — thanks to Airbus freeing up space by slightly modifying the seats’ layout, Quartz reports. But there’s no doubt the seats will look and feel a bit tighter, if only because the plane’s capacity will be raised to 544, up from 525. Even if you have relatively narrow shoulders — the average human shoulder width is about 16 in. (41 cm.) — you can’t always count on your neighbors to be similarly sized.
Here’s what you might be feeling aboard your next flight with the A380’s main users, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Qantas:
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The tight A380 seats are part of an industry trend that’s crept into long-haul planes from short-haul planes, where passengers tend to be more willing to endure a few hours of discomfort to save money. Other long-haul jets to shrink seats include the Boeing 777 — commonly flown by United and American Airlines — whose new models are being shipped with 17 in. seat widths.