Weekend what we’re reading: Adjustable airline seats, curbing airport baggage theft,


This weekend we look at adjustable-width seating being proposed for planes. Another option for varying the width of seats comes from Airbus, where aisle seats would be wider. But, airlines are not jumping at either solution. Finally, airlines are taking another look at baggage theft at airports.

High-tec airplane seating

Here’s a new concept for airline seats that replaces the normal foam padded seats with stretched fabric. The removal of the fixed-space foam allows these seats to be reconfigured with varying widths. Morph, the company introducing this concept, claims that passengers will be able to choose the width of their seats in the future.

Morph replaces the individual foam pads commonly used as airplane seat cushions with a single sheet of fabric stretched over an adjustable framework and brings the ergonomic, high-tension style of the Aeron Chair to air travel. In a standard three-seat module, the two inner armrests can be adjusted by the flight crew to make larger or smaller seats. If an adult is traveling with two children, the space could be reapportioned to give mom more space by shrinking the children’s seats slightly. In the unusual event of an undersold flight, airlines could offer a poor man’s upgrade by creating two larger seats.

Adjustments will only be possible in between flights and made exclusively by the flight crew, so travelers needn’t fear that an unscrupulous seatmate will try to bogart their space. In fact, White designed an extender flap for the armrests to give every passenger a chance to rest their wings without passive-aggressively fighting over the inch-and-three-quarter DMZ that exists currently.


The Airbus seating solution — wider seats at the aisles

Airbus has come up with a new seating solution that widens the aisle seat and narrows the middle and window seat. In test after test passengers have said they like the configuration. The window seat person almost always gravitates to the wall, the middle seat person has more shoulder space and the aisle seat person also has more space.

Though the aircraft manufacturer is pitching these seats as a better way of seating passengers, airlines are not lining up to buy the idea. For them it would be too complex and would hinder uniformity across their fleets. Even though they could sell aisle seats at a premium, they haven’t agreed. Go figure. What do you think?

Airlines say having different seat widths in the same cabin would introduce more complexity, plus the expense of retrofitting thousands of seats across a fleet. If the wider seats weren’t in every A320, they could disappoint passengers when they have to substitute airplanes for maintenance or scheduling issues. Big airlines flying multiple plane types also have the problem of not being able to offer wider aisle seats in the coach cabin of Boeing’s narrow-body planes, like the 737 and 757.

In addition, the 20-inch aisle seat might provide a cheaper alternative to buying a first-class ticket to get a wider seat. Some international airlines offer premium economy on long trips with extra width and legroom, typically for about 50 percent more than a regular coach ticket.

Curbing airport baggage theft

Many have noticed that the airport baggage claim is one of the only places that American society seems to employ the honor system. Passengers stand around the baggage carousel, wait for their luggage, pick it out and wander off. For the most part, there is no security regarding what piece of luggage passengers depart with. In fact, there is sometimes a mix-up; I have heard of passengers contacting each other to exchange luggage that was picked up by mistake.

But, sometimes more than mistakes happen. In some airports organized baggage thieves have evidently been operating and whisking off baggage that doesn’t belong to them; baggage from a flight that they were not traveling on. After years of looking the other way, Delta is beginning a baggage matching program at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas that will require passengers to match their luggage tag to the luggage they are carrying out of the baggage claim area.

Delta Air Lines, the second-busiest commercial air carrier at McCarran International Airport, has begun a two-month pilot program to prevent thefts from the airport’s baggage claim carousels.

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based airline said Delta would test the effectiveness of the “positive bag match” program before determining whether to continue it and possibly use it at other airports.

Theft from bags is a cyclical crime of opportunity, airport security experts say. At McCarran, Metro Police partners with the Clark County Aviation Department to prevent thefts with additional security cameras and undercover sting operations. McCarran officials say increased airline staffing in the vicinity of carousels and tag match programs represent another layer of security against thefts.

  • Johnp

    Only common sense to confirm to airport authorities it is YOUR luggage you are carrying away. Years ago that was routine at most airports.

  • magickann

    What about the rifling of baggage that goes on behind the scenes with TSA and the baggage handlers? Years ago at LAX you matched your luggage tag to the one stapled on your ticket stub, added a minute or two to your departure from the terminal as you showed a security guard your match, but kept some people honest. This is not a new idea.

  • AirlineEmployee

    …”.seat adjustments made only between flights and only by flight crew.”…(?)
    Here we go again. Exactly at what point during the very busy time of boarding an aircraft and getting people to their rows, getting them seated and making sure bags are stowed properly are the flight attendants or gate agents going to be adjusting seats ? What about Mr. elite traveler who starts whining about his seat change and demands extra width at the very last minute.
    This will truly cut into flights boarding on time and will just create more drama that is not needed.