April 23, 2007


Back to the future of seats on a plane? (Dan Reed, 4/23/07, USA TODAY)

The dreaded middle seat in coach may never be the same on long international flights.

Britain's Premium Aircraft Interiors Group, or PAIG, has introduced the Freedom Economy Seat, a three-seat row that flips the middle one backward. PAIG also has a four-seat row in which the middle two face backward.

The configuration, introduced at a trade show in Germany last week, promises to minimize or eliminate the current problems of coach passengers bumping elbows, knees and especially shoulders, typically the widest part of the body. Freedom seats also would give passengers at least two more inches of legroom than conventional seats, PAIG says.

Ben Bettell, the PAIG executive who led the seat design project, says they provide passengers more room while allowing airlines to get 10 passengers across in coach sections of wide-body planes such as the Boeing 777 rather than the current nine. The typical gain for that type of plane would be 21 seats. "It's a win-win situation for the passenger and the airline," he says.

...for those trapped in the forward-facxing, or death, seats.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2007 6:30 AM

On the plus side, the forward-facing people only have to avoid looking at one person directly facing them; the back-facing people have to avoid two.

Posted by: Just John at April 23, 2007 10:57 AM

Yep. Planes crash on a daily basis, Look at all those thousands who would have survived just last year if they'd only faced backwards.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 23, 2007 12:29 PM

Look at all those thousands who would have survived just last year if they'd only faced backwards.

Thus to maximize survivability in a plane crash, everyone including the pilot must face backward.

Posted by: ic at April 23, 2007 1:22 PM

They will in cars as well.

Posted by: oj at April 23, 2007 5:11 PM

I don't get where you end up with more shoulder and elbow room? The setup looks identical to the standard front facing row.

Posted by: Pete at April 23, 2007 8:15 PM