While today’s business class seating is more luxurious than ever before, it’s also much heavier.
According to a recent report from Aviation Week, as airlines look to create lighter, more fuel efficient aircraft (especially for ultra-long-haul routes), business class could be one of the first places where they cut excess weight.
Business class travelers now often find semi-private areas shielded by screens, chairs that recline fully, and large screens for in-flight entertainment.
“The features and offerings provided to business class have definitely increased over time, which has an impact on the weight of the seat,” Elijah Dobrusin, vice president of development and strategy at LIFT by EnCore, an aircraft seating manufacturer, told Travel + Leisure.
German airplane seat manufacturer Recaro is betting that weight will become a larger selling point in the business class of the future.
“Our seat is one of the lightest at 176 lbs. — other seats go way beyond [220 lbs.],” Recaro’s CEO, Mark Hiller, told Aviation Week. “If you multiply that by 60 seats it can add up to a 2- to 3-ton difference.”
Hiller believes that lighter, newer materials could help airlines shave off extra pounds. However the push for lighter seats is old news in the economy cabin.
“The economy class is driven by very cost conscious passengers, which historically has been the primary driver for the economy class market,” Dobrusin said. “This is why you have seen an introduction of thinner seats that allow for more seats to be installed in the cabin.”
Dobrusin also said airlines are eliminating weight by eliminating seatback entertainment devices. Passengers are increasingly more likely to find power outlets and onboard Wi-Fi than a personal entertainment system in new cabins.
“Of course, these demands need to be balanced with a seat that is safe — and this is by far the number one requirement of the entire industry — robust, cost effective, and all of the other demands on a seat,” Dobrusin said.