The disappearance of the reclining seat



Your aircraft has just reached cruise altitude, the seat belt sign has gone off and you're searching for the seat recline button – but there isn't one.

On short-haul flights, the non-reclining seat could soon be the new standard in economy class.

Non-reclining seats have been a feature of some budget airlines for many years.

They cost less, maintenance issues are virtually eliminated, they're lighter which means a fuel and cost saving and they allow airlines to stack more bodies into their aircraft, thus earning more revenue per flight.

As legacy carriers go head-to-head with budget airlines to survive, they are adopting a similar Scrooge-like business model, and that includes chucking out the reclining seat.

That's exactly what British Airways has done with its new fleet of 35 Airbus A320neos and A321neos, scheduled to enter service with the airline later this year.

On flights up to four hours, BA's economy passengers will sit in a position the airline describes as "Pre-reclined at a gentle angle", with no option to change.

A non-reclining seat is a welcome change for many flyers.

Seat recline has become a contentious issue, with fists thrown and in a few extreme cases, aircraft diverted when cabin brawls broke out.

According to a Skyscanner survey, 91 per cent of air travellers wanted seat recline either banned or restricted to set times on short-haul flights.

How long before other major carriers adopt non-reclining seats?

Anywhere that legacy carriers are competing with low-cost carriers is a likely candidate, and that applies to just about every major air route.

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