Airbus is offering airlines the option of installing extra-wide seats for overweight passengers on its A320 jets to cope with what it describes as “trends in demographics”.
The super-sized seats will measure 20 inches across instead of the standard 18 inches, and will likely be installed only as aisle seats.
Window and middle seats will each lose an inch of width to generate the extra space.
Airbus is selling the idea as an innovative way to “meet passenger needs” – even though two-thirds of passengers will have to make do with less space.
The plans were announced this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.
Airbus first suggested the idea last year, but a poll back in July by the Skyscanner website found 80% of British fliers were opposed to losing seat space to accommodate larger passengers.
Airbus aircraft interiors marketing manager Stefanie Von Linstow told Flightglobal: “Passengers in the window seat are already happy and those in the centre seat might not be willing to pay as much for less width.
“The aisle seat seems the most attractive for the concept.”
Samoa Air recently became the world’s first airline to institute a “pay-by-weight” system, where the weight of a passenger and their luggage determines fare price.
Chief Executive Chris Langton said this was the “fairest” way to charge travelers while addressing the obesity crisis – an acute problem in Samoa’s Pacific region.
Another carrier, Southwest Airlines requires its “Customers of Size” who do not fit between the armrests to purchase another seat.
In a November 2012 report on the issue, Dr. Bharat Bhatta from Norway’s Sogn og Fjordane University College said that a “fat tax” is the way to price tickets “correctly”.
Dr. Bharat Bhatta said: “The model can be technically and economically feasible to implement and its proper implementation may provide significant benefits to airlines, passengers and society at large, not just economic transfers.”