February 26, 2018

The Seat Size Controversy… More Inaccurate Media Reporting

This past week there were a couple of stories on how some of the inhabitants of congress want to pressure the FAA into legislating seat dimensions.

To “fix” a problem requires having a knowledge of the problem. That’s not the case here.

There is no question that seat “pitch” – simply put, space between rows – has gotten much tighter in the last 20 years… particularly in the last five.

But that’s not the same as seat-width, which truth be known, has actually – on average – grown in the last 20 years in US skies.

Don’t Check The Source – Especially If It Agrees With The Reporter’s Pre-Conceived Conclusion. These articles are often embellished by the oh-so-righteous statement that seat-width has also shrunken from an average of 18.5 inches a few years ago (whenever that was) to an average of 17 inches today. The articles then attribute the source of this statistic to one consumer group or another…

Fake news lives. It’s a flat-out false statistic, at least for US airlines.

Here’s a fact to ponder…. In the US, the smallest seat width in economy cabins at US airlines is 17 inches. (This does not include any smattering left of air taxis or third-tier carriers flying very small aircraft.)

That’s the smallest, and in the US it is found only on categories of “regional” jets.

New Airliners Have Changed The Mix. Let’s take a look …despite what some media sources mis-report, the B-737/757 has exactly the same fuselage width as the first 707s that entered service in 1958.

The cross-cabin seat density in normal economy has always been six… so shrinking the width of the actual seat would gain nothing in regard to more passenger density. It’s been around 17.5 inches since 1958. So even if it were originally at 18.5 (which is bogus), there’s no way shrinking the width would deliver more capacity.

Most of the reporters who spread this inaccurate drivel have no clue of the subject matter.

In fact, there has been some increase in seat density on some widebody airliners, but none in US operation are less than 17 inches wide.

(For the record, airlines have tried different seating configurations… in the 1960s, United dabbled with a second economy cabin with 5 across, It didn’t survive.)

Actually, the average width of the US economy seat has grown in the past 20 years. The expansion of the A-320 family actually has increased average tush width in US economy cabins… they have an average of 18 inches. The Embraer E-170/190 airliners have seats at approximately 18.2, and the new CSeries coming on line at Delta will have some seats at 19.

So here’s the bottom line… since the narrowest seats in US fleets are at 17 – and these are just on smaller “regional” jets – and virtually all other narrow-body airliners in US skies are above that, it doesn’t take an advanced degree in fractal geometry to conclude that the “average” today simply cannot be 17 inches.  The pandering consumer groups and the reporters who blindly rely on them have a credibility problem.

Simply put, the consumer gadfly organizations and their media groupies are passing out bad information. One wonders about the accuracy of the rest of their reporting. The congressional inhabitants who might repeat this garbage are in the same category.

So, the folks that are reporting a decline in average seat width – particularly in narrow-body US fleets – need to do some homework. Or find another profession.

Again, this is not to imply that seat pitch hasn’t declined.  It has.

But the story demands facts, not innuendo.


BGI Delivers China Symposium At Raleigh-Durham

The Boyd Group International/China Ni Hao professionals were honored to be teamed with the Raleigh-Durham International Airport to deliver a comprehensive Symposium to North Carolina industry, civic, and government leaders, outlining the opportunities for China air service.

With the enormous Chinese business investment in the region, including Lenovo, Tencent, Smithfield Foods, and Triangle Tires, the North Carolina Research Triangle supports over 160,000 annual air travelers from China, according to BGI’s Airports:China forecasts.

The objective of the Symposium was to illuminate the realities of gaining nonstop access to China, which today does not yet have a fully-developed hub-and-spoke system that compares to that in the US. Indeed, today, the largest single airline operation is the China Southern system in Guangzhou, which is in southern China. It has @ 350 daily flights… compare that to some US connecting hubs, with between 600 and 900 departures.  This will evolve in the years ahead.

In the meantime, there’s lots of aggressive planning and outreach that needs to be pursued by US regions and airports to meet the China future.

At the event, BGI staff outlined the future evolution of the Chinese airline industry as it will affect RDU, as well as key data regarding where the communities of business interests will develop between North Carolina and China in the coming years. BGI is the leader in China-US air traffic and trend data,

We were honored to work with the team at RDU to deliver this program.

The China Era Is Here – And It’s An Opportunity for Regions Across America.

We would note that Boyd Group International and its team of China experts stand ready to assist communities and airports in developing aggressive China-Welcome programs.

Welcome & Wayfinding Programs – Chinese leisure and business visitors will prefer and gravitate to locations that make an effort to welcome them with basic but professional materials such as key communication touch-point signage, and making certain parts of the venue fully China-Welcome…

Professionally-Created Chinese Support Materials. BGI can craft a tailored program for any venue to assure that Chinese visitors – particularly business visitors – have the materials and informational guidance they need to have an anxiety-free visit, and to know that their hosts respect their business…

Local China-Welcome Outreach. If you are relying on machine-translated versions of your website and promotional documents, delete them immediately! They are usually very sloppy, inaccurate and in some cases offensive. Let BGI’s experts develop and create the message professionally…

Digital Outreach. BGI’s team has established WeChat, Baidu and other digital programs for US companies and organizations. We can literally put your airport or community in the pockets of millions of Chinese consumers…

China-Welcome Programs. Just as at the North Carolina Research Triangle, BGI can deliver incisive and informative programs on-site, designed to inform and fire-up the region to become more competitive for the billions in China-US investment and the more than 23 million Chinese leisure visitors expected to see the US over the next five years.

Point: If your region is interested in looking to the China future, we’re ready.