For long-haul travellers who squeeze themselves into economy seats, a new study finds that a tiny bit more wiggle room could make a substantial impact as to whether or not you'll get quality sleep on board.
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced Monday that even as much as an extra inch of room can boost the quality of your on-flight slumber, and the organization is calling on airlines to set a minimum seat width of 18 inch (45.72 cm) for long-haul travel.
Research conducted by the London Sleep Centre that measured brainwaves and eye, abdominal, chest, hip and leg movement of 1,500 airline passengers found that a seat width of 18 inches improved their sleep quality by 53% when compared to a 17-inch-wide seat, which was the standard set back in the 1950s (when waistlines were smaller and long-distance travellers fewer). The study involved participants recruited at four international airports -- Singapore, Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam.
"The difference was significant," said researcher Dr. Irshaad Ebrahim in a press release. "All passengers experienced a deeper, less disturbed and longer night's sleep in the 18-inch seat."
"The 17-inch seat is what we call the crusher seat," said Kevin Keniston, Airbus's head of passenger comfort. "It is the seat that prevents you from movement; it prevents you from getting comfortable during the flight."
"Our research reveals that not only does seat width make a dramatic impact on passenger comfort, there is a growing cohort of discerning economy passengers who are not prepared to accept 17-inch seats and will instead choose airlines that offer better seat comfort," he added.
"We are encouraging all airlines to look at our research and consider increasing the size of their seats because one inch makes all the difference."