Sitting Pretty In Coach

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To keep customers happy in the face of growing competition for low-fare carriers, larger carriers have improved economy and business class seating, and some have even enhanced service. Air New Zealand installed ergonomic seats in coach with flexible head rests, adjustable footrests and two more inches of leg room. The carrier even retrained first-class attendants in inflight service techniques. TWA installed new Slimline Seats in coach, offering more leg room and cushioning, currently only in the 757s and MD83s. United is installing new coach seating on its fleet. The seats, which are an inch wider, are from the makers of Mercedes. Much of the carrier’s attention has been on Connoisseur Class for international flights. The business class section now features a new lumbar support system called BackCycler, which massages the lower back through an air cushion. The seats also have adjustable bottom cushions to accommodate any height; longer and adjustable leg rests with foot pads; heightened tray tables to make eating and working easier (you can cross your legs under the trays) and adjustable reading lights.

American Airlines also focused on business class. Seat pitch (space between seats) increased from an average of 40-50 inches, equaling 75% more leg room. Seat recline also increased, allowing passengers to stretch out further.