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Be Very Afraid: The 27-Inch-Pitch Airline Seat Is Coming

Be Very Afraid: The 27-Inch-Pitch Airline Seat Is Coming

Spirit and Ryanair, the two ultra-low-cost airlines infamous for their low-priced, no-comfort flights, cram as many seats as possible into their planes. That’s their business model. With pitch — the front-to-back distance between seats — as little as 28 inches and 30 inches, respectively, legroom is an oxymoron.

As unpleasant as the inflight experience on those carriers can be, a new benchmark for ultra-cramped seating may be in the offing.

Zodiac Aerospace, self-proclaimed “world leader in aircraft seating,” presented its new ultra-slimline seat designs at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, including the L3, which could be a game-changer for high-density seating.

The L3, according to the manufacturer, “is a revolutionary passenger seat dedicated for medium/short haul flights, offering a good living space to passengers and to airlines a higher density and a lighter weight, below 4 kg. per passenger.”

A good living space?

The speculation is that the new ultra-slimline seats have been designed specifically to allow an extra row of seats on the popular A320, increasing the plane’s capacity from 180 to 186 seats. But to do that, the seats would have to be arranged with just 27 inches of pitch between rows.

A good living space?

Just how good would your experience of the living space be when shoehorned into a seat with just 27 inches of pitch? Next time you’re whiling away the hours in a coach seat with 30 or 31 inches of pitch, on a fully-loaded flight, just imagine the seat in front of you 3 or 4 inches closer to your knees.

“A good living space” probably won’t be the first words that spring to mind.

Reader Reality Check

How little legroom can you live with?

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  • peterknight

    I am sure there will be many people who will make these a success. Just waiting for the day when the flying public which pander to these airlines will finally revolt.

  • Jeff Webb

    Two airlines that I would never consider using and that rule applies to any other airline that tries that seating configuration. For me, if the drive is three days or less, I’ll drive.

  • WatchingFromOverThere

    32″ is the absolute minimum for me. I will not fly with anyone who offers less, and I seek out seats that offer greater leg room, even paying more if necessary.

  • RK

    I believe the new slimline seats give you an extra 1-2in of legroom with the same pitch, due to the thickness and shape of the seat, so a 27in slimline is similar to a 29in regular seat…
    Which is what some Asian low-cost carriers have today and it’s pretty miserable, at least if you are 6ft tall or more…
    I’m 6ft3 and can handle it for 1-2 h, but not more… And my kneecaps won’t survive any seat recline…

  • EarlVanDorn

    I don’t care about pitch. It’s the lack of width that bothers me.

  • drtom

    As bad as the 27″ pitch is (unless you’re a small child), these seats look to have precious little padding, more akin to church pews.

  • Edgar Numrich

    Well, there’s a bright-side to most everything.

    Here, there’s not a chance of being anywhere near any of the Kardashians . . .

  • maoman

    When does the lack of space become a safety concern? I would imagine it impedes the ability to safely exit the plane in case of an emergency. Where is the NTSB on this? Pretty soon we will all be standing like we’re riding a subway..

  • Gene Kruger

    Air Canadas new low-cost subsidiary, Rouge, has crammed new slimline seats into their 319s and 767s …..with a pitch of 29 inches…..passengers are being very vocal about their displeasure and are refuseing to fly them….27 inch pitch won’t fly.

  • Joe J

    Pitch is the front to front distance between seats, which includes the thickness of the seat back. Hence, you can reduce the seat thickness, and therefore the pitch, while keeping the same legroom. Pitch is meaningless unless you know the thickness of the seat back and the length of the seat base (the part your rear goes on).

    Pitch is not the front to back distance, and differences in pitch are only directly related to legroom if comparing different pitches with the same seat.

  • DrSamHerman

    I gave up the city bus when I earned enough money to buy and maintain a car. Why would I want to fly one for a few hours? The only things missing would be the indescribably horrible odor and subway straps common to most ground forms of public transport. NO THANKS.

  • CVG_Traveler

    I’m with maoman… surely there is a safety regulation that says you can only have X number of people on a given plane type?

  • RJ

    The airline business plan is to make the Coach seats so uncomfortably
    tight that people like you are willing to fork over a small amount of
    currency for an extra inch or two. Congratulations– you fit into their
    business plan perfectly. It’s only a matter of time before we see a long
    line for the one complimentary lavatory, and a much shorter line for
    the credit card-only lavatory.