Here's the skinny
Just when you thought flying coach couldn't get much more cramped, United Airlines has announced plans to install slimmer seats to its Airbus narrow-bodies. Each aircraft in the 152-plane fleet currently offers between 12 and 15 rows of economy seating.
The Chicago-based airline promises that the lighter padding of the Recaro Aircraft Seating (a German brand that several European airlines have already switched to) will be enough to squeeze in an extra row without compromising passenger leg room.
Beyond collecting additional revenue from as many as six extra passengers, the lightweight seats will lighten the load of each aircraft for "an appreciable amount of fuel savings," according to United's CFO John Rainey.
Business Insider points out that more seats mean more passengers, which translates to interminable boarding and disembarkation, longer restroom lines, slower cabin service and less room in the overhead containers for carry on luggage (although the latter, at least, may be rectified by a recently-initiated, across-the-board bin capacity increase).
According to the Apex blog, United will debut the new seats in 2013 and continue to roll them out over 2014. As some consolation, the carrier's entire fleet will be outfitted with WiFi by 2015.