Sunday 21 January 2018

Size does count when it comes to mid-flight nap

ANYONE wedged into the middle seat at the back of a plane midway through a 12-hour flight already knows that economy seats aren't exactly roomy. And given global obesity trends, this is only set to get worse.

In the midst of this airborne discomfort, new sleep research from plane manufacturer Airbus found that an 18-inch seat width is more conducive to restful sleep than a seat even one inch narrower.

The research found that a seat width of 18 inches or more improved sleep quality by 53pc, compared with a 17-inch space for its test subjects.

"All passengers experienced a deeper, less disturbed and longer night's sleep in the 18-inch seat," said the London Sleep Centre's Dr Irshaad Ebrahim.

Airbus says the number of flights exceeding 13 hours has jumped by 70pc in recent years. Given that this will undoubtedly continue to grow, it is pushing for an 18-inch seat to become the standard on long-haul flights.

Unfortunately for passengers, airlines are showing little interest in freeing up room – at least in the economy section, since more seats mean more revenue. Ten abreast seats on the popular Boeing 777, the workhorse of many global airline fleets, is now standard, up from nine seats when the plane was introduced in the 1990s. And though new aircraft sometimes offer roomier seats, United Airlines is flying its new 787 Dreamliners with a 17.3-inch seat in economy while LOT, an early 787 operator, recently chose a 16.9-inch seat for economy.

Travellers concerned about comfort can check the seat sizes on offer before they choose an airline at seatguru.com.

CATERING FOR THE LADIES ONBOARD

MEN and women travel very differently, according to new research from UK airline BMI Regional. A larger baggage allowance was in higher demand among female respondents, as was the removal of toiletry size limits.

Differences were also clear when it came to planning – the research found 39pc of women travellers make arrangements more than four weeks in advance compared with 20pc of men, who tend to plan just a few days ahead.

Interestingly, a tenth of respondents (from both genders) said they would welcome separate seating sections for women on aircraft while a quarter said that they thought single-sex lavatories would be a good idea.

Still, only 6pc of female respondents said they would be willing to pay to benefit from single-sex facilities.

"This research shows the small differences that can make all the difference," said BMI Regional's chief executive Cathal O'Connell.

"There are subtle differences in the way men and women travel," he said.

"It is clear that one size does not fit all . . . our own inflight service feedback clearly shows that female fliers prefer lighter meals, especially on morning flights.

"We, as an airline, are taking some of these on board, and rethinking our own offerings, such as adapting on-board menus to deliver healthy choices."

Irish Independent

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