Design + Architecture

Future of Air Travel

by Terry Ward

More Legroom Onboard

What's happening: Sucking the fat out of seat backs gives passengers more space to stretch out.

The facts: When something is good for the airlines, it doesn't always benefit the flying public (see: baggage fees, priority boarding fees, meal fees, and exit-row seating fees). But leave it to German engineering to find an innovation that's a plus for both the airlines and their passengers. In 2011, Lufthansa introduced slimline seats on its short- and medium-haul flights, a design that increases seating capacity (more revenue for the airline) and gives passengers more legroom. They've pulled it off by trading seat backs of thick foam for ones made from perforated leather (similar to a high-backed office chair). Although elbow room stays the same, the overall feel is more spacious. A similar concept is in the works for Lufthansa's long-haul fleet. In a word? Wunderbar.

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