Weíve all seen the statistics, and thereís no doubt that as a society, we ARE getting heavier. Among the societal ills that are placed on the doorstep of the overweight are increased fuel costs for airlines to fly the extra weight. In todayís New York Times, however, thereís an article that suggests our excess avoirdupois may not be the ONLY reason for extra weight in an airplane. [There’s a free registration for this, but if you wait a couple of weeks to read it, the paper charges a fee]
Simply put: more people are being crammed onto airplanes, due to advances in seat design. Who knew? Now, it may not seem to be a big deal, but airlines are able to add another row or two in economy. At an average passenger weight of 150 pounds, and 6 people per row, that adds another 900 pounds. For 12 people, thatís 1800 pounds, and by the time we add in the weight of their luggage, thatís more than an additional ton of weight thatís been added.
And that takes fuel to move.
However, because the newer airline seats are now 15 pounds lighter than the old ones, letís do the math Ė 90 pounds less for 6 additional people; 180 pounds less for 12. Doesnít make much difference to the total additional weight, does it? Maybe it does compensate, however, for the fact that some of the passengers are overweight.
At least, we can take some small comfort in the fact that the new seats provide more space between armrests because the electronics have been moved to the seat back.
All in all, Iím not sure I want to hear more complaints about how the overweight are just about the only factor driving up the costs of airplane travel.
Now, if only they could figure out how to increase the capacity of the overhead cargo bins so that everyone could stow their carryons.